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dc.contributor.authorKatz, Elizabeth
dc.date.accessioned2022-06-16T18:07:26Z
dc.date.available2022-06-16T18:07:26Z
dc.date.issued2022
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.13051/18185
dc.descriptionVol. 33.2:110en_US
dc.description.abstractOn January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the nation’s first woman Vice President. This occasion, marked by women of color holding two of the most crucial roles in the federal government, would have been unthinkable to many for most of United States history. While the political efforts necessary to reach this moment have been studied in great depth, the legal challenges to women’s officeholding have been overlooked and even denied. Relying on extensive historical research, this Article is the first to examine how women advocated for more than a century for the legal right to hold public office through state-level litigation, constitutional amendments, legislative lobbying, and public commentary. From the 1840s through the 1940s, women in many states were excluded from holding even minor public offices because of state constitutional language and judicial holdings. Opponents of women’s officeholding feared that permitting women to assume posts would deprive men of their rightful opportunities, radically alter gender norms, and fuel the fire of the women’s suffrage movement. The nation’s first women lawyers were particularly active in challenging officeholding restrictions, with results varying by region and reflecting distinct legal, political, and social cultures. In some states disenfranchised women could assume only a narrow range of offices related to education, children, and charity, while in other locations they could hold a wide array of appointed posts and even elected positions for which they could not vote. After women were enfranchised through either state constitutional provisions or the Nineteenth Amendment, their officeholding eligibility remained contested in jurisdictions that did not expressly authorize it. Recovering the history of women’s legal right to hold public office challenges three major conventional wisdoms. First, it undermines the commonplace claim in scholarship on women’s legal and political history that officeholding was not a meaningful part of women’s advocacy or experiences until after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. This Article’s account instead shows that proponents of women’s rights have long demanded women’s access to public posts, and women held positions for more than a half century prior to the federal suffrage amendment. Second, this Article challenges prominent scholarship—mostly focused on interpreting the Reconstruction Amendments—that treats officeholding and suffrage as inevitably paired. Foregrounding women’s history and state-level advocacy emphasizes the legal possibility and practical reality of severing these rights. Third, and relatedly, the Article calls for more attention to state constitutional law and regional variation. The women’s officeholding story clearly demonstrates how focusing on one geographical area, providing a single national account, or limiting analysis to the federal level obscures essential developments in securing rights.en_US
dc.titleSex, Suffrage, and State Constitutional Law: Women’s Legal Right to Hold Public Officeen_US
rioxxterms.versionNAen_US
rioxxterms.typeConference Paper/Proceeding/Abstracten_US
refterms.dateFOA2022-06-16T18:07:26Z


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