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Minor v. Happersett

A Constitutional Approach

In their petition filed in December of 1872, Virginia Minor's attorneys argued her constitutional rights had been abridged. They cited Article I, section 9, that no bill of attainder shall be passed; Article I, section 10, prohibiting states from passing bills of attainder or "any title of nobility--a status that `male citizens' seemed to have been awarded; Article IV, section 2, which gave citizens of the states privileges and immunities of citizens in all of the States"; Article IV, section 4, guaranteeing to every state a republican form of government and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee that "no person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."

They also cited the Ninth Amendment, which reserves to the people any rights not expressly granted to the government. The last amendment cited was the Fourteenth Amendment, section 1, using the same resolutions Minor had thought out back in 1869.

Reese Happersett's attorney maintained that "the defendant was justified in refusing to register the plaintiff on account of her sex." Both the Circuit Court of St. Louis and the Supreme Court of Missouri agreed. Both courts acquitted Happersett and upheld Missouri's denial of suffrage to women.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Minor v. Happersett - Significance, The "new Departure", A Constitutional Approach, All Or Nothing, The Fourteenth Amendment