Category Archives: 19th Amendment

“Florida’s New Driver’s License Rule Is Blatant Trans Voter Suppression”


Quietly and behind the scenes last month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, or FLHSMV, issued a memo indicating that it will no longer honor Floridians’ requests to amend the gender marker on their driver’s licenses. “Permitting an individual to alter his or her license to reflect an internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, undermines the purpose of an identification record,” Robert Kynoch, deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, wrote in the memo, reciting rhetoric now often used to justify anti-trans laws. The memo closed with what could be read as a threat: “Misrepresenting one’s gender, understood as sex, on a driver license constitutes fraud [under state law] and subjects an offender to criminal and civil penalties.” Or, said more directly, as in a statement that FLHSMV made to several media outlets after news of the memo hit the press: “You do not get to play identity politics with your driver license.”

This news is alarming for several reasons. Until now, the state had allowed residents to amend the gender marker on their licenses and state identification cards. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, run by a political appointee of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is attempting to throw out that policy in this memo. The state legislature is also currently considering something similar: House Bill 1639, which Equality Florida, the statewide LGBTQ rights group, calls the Trans Erasure Bill, includes provisions that redefine “sex” and “gender” in the law in such a way that trans Floridians would be required to list the sex they were assigned at birth on their driver’s licenses. “On the one hand, you have this policy that’s saying, You can no longer amend, and on the other hand, you have this policy that’s saying, When you’re applying for documents they have to have your sex assigned at birth,” explained Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at ACLU Florida. “So you’re creating a situation where there’s an intent to erase trans Floridians from public life.”…

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Monopoli on the Nineteenth Amendment

Paula Monopoli (University of Maryland Francis Carey School of Law) has a new article out entitled, “Gender, Voting Rights, and the Nineteenth Amendment.” The article is forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy. The abstract is below:

One hundred years after the woman suffrage amendment became part of the United States Constitution, a federal court has held—for the first time—that a plaintiff must establish intentional discrimination to prevail on a direct constitutional claim under the Nineteenth Amendment. In adopting that threshold standard, the court simply reasoned by strict textual analogy to the Fifteenth Amendment and asserted that ‘there is no reason to read the Nineteenth Amendment differently from the Fifteenth Amendment’. This paper’s thesis is that, to the contrary, the Nineteenth Amendment is deserving of judicial analysis independent of the Fifteenth Amendment because it has a distinct constitutional history and meaning. The unique historical context preceding and following the Nineteenth’s ratification militates for courts to adopt a holistic interpretative approach when considering a Nineteenth Amendment claim. Such an approach has both expressive and doctrinal implications, providing support for courts to adopt disparate impact, rather than intentional discrimination or discriminatory purpose, as a threshold standard for such claims. Reasoning beyond the text—from legislative intent, purposes, structure, and institutional relationships—could restore the lost constitutional history around the Nineteenth Amendment, making it a more potent tool to address gendered voter suppression today, especially for women of color. This paper provides a framework for judges willing to move away from rigid textual analogy toward a more holistic constitutional interpretation when evaluating a constitutional claim under the amendment.

Can’t wait to read this one! Important and timely.

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The Consequences of Disinformation–An International Perspective

A new article by Karen Hao in the Technology Review explores “how Facebook and Google fund global misinformation.” It argues that “the tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages,” thereby “bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.”

From the Article:

“In 2015, six of the 10 websites in Myanmar getting the most engagement on Facebook were from legitimate media, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-run tool. A year later, Facebook (which recently rebranded to Meta) offered global access to Instant Articles, a program publishers could use to monetize their content.

One year after that rollout, legitimate publishers accounted for only two of the top 10 publishers on Facebook in Myanmar. By 2018, they accounted for zero. All the engagement had instead gone to fake news and clickbait websites. . . .

It was during this rapid degradation of Myanmar’s digital environment that a militant group of Rohingya—a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority—attacked and killed a dozen members of the security forces, in August of 2017.

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Seventh Annual Salmon P. Chase Distinguished Lecture, April 22: Martha Jones on the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

Looking forward to this, from the Georgetown Center for the Constitution:

To register, please click the “register” button on the top right of the page or fill out the following form. 

Hosted by the Georgetown Center for the Constitution and cosponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Together with the Supreme Court Historical Society, the Center sponsors the annual Salmon P. Chase Distinguished Lecture and Faculty Colloquium to commemorate important anniversaries and neglected figures in our constitutional history. On Thursday evening April 22nd, 2021, Professor Martha Jones of Johns Hopkins University will be delivering the Seventh Annual Salmon P. Chase Distinguished Lecture commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment. The event will be held virtually. Our previous Chase lecturers have included James Oakes, Eric Foner, Colleen Sheehan, William Ewald, Charles McCurdy, and Sandy Levinson.

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CAC October 1 Event: “The 19th Amendment and Our Unfinished Work”


As our nation mourns the loss of Justice Ginsburg—a stalwart champion for gender equality and voting rights—we continue to mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits the federal government and the states from denying or abridging the right to vote “on account of sex.”  What role does the 19th Amendment play in the arc of constitutional progress?  For whom was this amendment’s promise illusory?  What have the 19th Amendment’s effects been on the health and vitality of our democracy?  And as we prepare for the historic election in November and future elections, what more needs to be done to ensure that the right to vote exists not only on paper, but in the lived reality of women across the nation?  These questions and more will be answered in an online event on Thursday, October 1st, from 5-6pm ET, featuring a keynote address by Catherine E. LhamonChair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and then a panel conversation featuring the following experts:

Elizabeth Wydra, President, Constitutional Accountability Center

Jocelyn Frye, Senior Fellow, Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, and former Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama.

The conversation will be moderated by CAC Vice President Praveen Fernandes.

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“How the Right to Vote Became Fundamental”

David Gans:

A century ago, the Nineteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution, prohibiting state-sponsored voting discrimination on account of sex, and women’s status as equal citizens was formally etched in the Constitution’s text.  What is less well known is that the Nineteenth Amendment also helped cement the idea that the right to vote is a fundamental right inherent in citizenship.   

For America’s first 150 years, the exclusion of half the population from participation in the electorate stood firmly in the way of viewing the right to vote as a fundamental right.  When, in the wake of Civil War, the Constitution was first amended to protect the right to vote, it drew a sharp line between men and women.  All citizens did not have a fundamental right to vote.  After all, women were citizens and, as Reconstruction congressmen repeatedly argued, [w]omen do not vote.”  Although a “woman is as much a citizen as a man,” when it came to the right to vote, the Reconstruction Framers took the view that states “may still discriminate.”  In short, instead of being a fundamental right, voting was viewed as a privilege that could be given to men and denied to women, who were deemed to be represented by men “at the polls and in the affairs of Government.” 

Indeed, in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly wrote this cramped view of democracy into the Constitution by imposing a penalty of reduced congressional representation on states that denied or abridged the right to vote to any of its “male” citizens.  In 1870, at the very moment when the Fifteenth Amendment first recognized that the right to vote was necessary to make real the promise of freedom and equal citizenship for Black men, our national charter underscored that women had no claim to the ballot and could be relegated to second-class status.  The Reconstruction Framers, time and again, took it as a given that women would be indirectly represented by their “fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons to whom the right of suffrage is given.”   

Women’s rights activists of the 1860s and 1870s, however, rejected the idea that our foundational promises of democracy, freedom, and equality were real if half the population could be excluded from voting…

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Watch Archived Video of UCLAW Event: “19th Amendment at 100: The Struggle for Voting Rights in America”

You can watch here, with a great lineup:

August 18th marks the one hundredth anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Join us for a conversation as we reflect on this landmark legislation and how the struggle for voting rights and protections still resonates in 2020. This discussion is hosted by UCLA Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin and features: Ellen DuBois – Professor Emeritus, UCLA History Department

Kathay Feng – National Redistricting Director, Common Cause

Celinda Lake – President, Lake Research Partners

Celinda Vázquez – Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles

Sonni Waknin – Managing Legal Fellow, UCLA Voting Rights Project

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Georgetown Law Journal Publishes 19th Amendment Special Edition; Proud to Be Part of It

Table of Contents:

Nineteenth Amendment Edition

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
Grace Paras


Hon. M. Margaret McKeown


Excerpted Transcript of “Searching for Equality: The Nineteenth Amendment and Beyond”
A conversation between United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge M. Margaret McKeown


Thin and Thick Conceptions of the Nineteenth Amendment Right to Vote and Congress’s Power to Enforce It
Richard L. Hasen & Leah M. Litman

Reconstructing Liberty, Equality, and Marriage: The Missing Nineteenth Amendment Argument
Nan D. Hunter

The “Welfare Queen” Goes to the Polls: Race-Based Fractures in Gender Politics and Opportunities for Intersectional Coalitions
Catherine Powell & Camille Gear Rich

The Pregnant Citizen, from Suffrage to the Present
Reva B. Siegel

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“‘A Woman Stumps Her State’: Nellie G. Robinson and Women’s Right to Hold Public Office in Ohio”

Elizabeth Katz has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Akron Law Review). Here is the abstract:

In recognition of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, this essay provides an introduction to a largely overlooked yet essential component of the women’s movement: the pursuit of women’s legal right to hold public office. From the mid-nineteenth century through ratification of the federal suffrage amendment in 1920, women demanded access to appointed and elected positions, ranging from notary public to mayor. Because the legal right to hold office had literal and symbolic connections to the right to vote, suffragists and antisuffragists were deeply invested in the outcome. Courts and legislatures varied in their responses, with those in the Midwest and West generally more willing than those in the Northeast and South to construe or create law permitting women to hold office. This account centers on the experiences of Nellie G. Robinson, a pioneering woman lawyer whose efforts to secure public office in Ohio received nationwide attention in the years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. To contextualize Robinson’s successes and failures, the essay expands to consider the parallel efforts of other women lawyers from the period, as well as the broader history of women’s officeholding in Ohio—a state with laws and politics reflecting the major trends and tensions in the national women’s officeholding movement.

This essay was written for a symposium issue of the Akron Law Review, organized with the Center for Constitutional Law. The topic for the conference and symposium was “The 19th Amendment at 100: From the Vote to Gender Equality.”

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Now Available: Revised Version of Hasen & Litman, “Thin and Thick Conceptions of the Nineteenth Amendment Right to Vote and Congress’s Power to Enforce It”

You can find a revised version of this paper by Leah Litman and me, part of a Georgetown Law Journal symposium on the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, at this link. Here is the abstract:

This Article, prepared for a Georgetown Law Journal symposium on the Nineteenth Amendment’s 100-year anniversary, explores and defends a “thick” conception of the Nineteenth Amendment right to vote and Congress’s power to enforce it. A “thin” conception of the Nineteenth Amendment maintains that the amendment merely prohibits states from enacting laws that prohibit women from voting, once the state decides to hold an election. And a “thin” conception of Congress’s power to enforce the Nineteenth Amendment maintains that Congress may only supply remedies for official acts that violate the Amendment’s substantive guarantees.

This piece argues the Nineteenth Amendment does more. A thick understanding of the Nineteenth Amendment’s substantive right is consistent with the Amendment’s text and history, as well as with a synthetic interpretation of the Constitution and its expanding guarantees of voting rights. The thick understanding of the Nineteenth Amendment would allow voting rights plaintiffs to attack restrictive voting laws burdening women, especially when those laws burden young women of color, who are guaranteed nondiscrimination in voting on the basis of age and race as well. And a thick understanding of Congress’s power to enforce the Nineteenth Amendment offers a way to redeem the Amendment from some of its racist origins and entanglement with the sexism that limited the Amendment’s reach, and to reinforce the democratic legitimacy of the Constitution. The thick understanding of Congress’s enforcement power would give Congress the ability to pass laws protecting women from voter discrimination and promoting their political equality. Nonetheless, the current Court is unlikely to embrace a thick understanding of the Nineteenth Amendment.

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