KATZENBACH v. MORGAN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
847
Appellant 
Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Attorney General et al.
Appellee 
Morgan, et ux
Consolidation 
No. 877
Advocates
(Solicitor General, Department of Justice, argued the cause for the appellants in No. 847)
(argued the cause for the appellants in No. 877)
(argued the cause for the appellees in both cases)
(Attorney General, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, argued the cause as amicus curiae, urging reversal)
Tags
Term:
Location: Congress
Facts of the Case 

New York voters sought declaratory judgment in a New York federal district court to prevent compliance with Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That section provided that no person who successfully completed the sixth grade in a school accredited by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the language of instruction was other than English shall be denied the right to vote in any election because of his inability to read or write English. The plaintiffs argued that Section 4(e) prevented the enforcement of New York election laws which required an ability to read and write English as a condition of voting. A three-judge panel of the district court granted declaratory judgment and prevented enforcement of Section 4(e). It held that Congress exceeded its constitutionally designated powers in enacting Section 4(e) and usurped the powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment.

Question 

Does Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 exceed the scope of Congress' powers to enact legislation because it infringes on powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Katzenbach, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Voting Rights Act of 1965

No. The Supreme Court held that Section 4(e) is a proper exercise of the powers granted to Congress. With Justice William J. Brennan writing for the majority, the Court reasoned that Congress exercised its powers consistent with those afforded it by Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court then concluded that the Supremacy Clause prevented the enforcement of the New York English literacy requirement.

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KATZENBACH v. MORGAN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1965/1965_847>.
KATZENBACH v. MORGAN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1965/1965_847 (last visited September 10, 2014).
"KATZENBACH v. MORGAN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1965/1965_847.