Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections
383 U.S. 663 (1966)

  • Harper tried to register to vote in Virginia, but the Elections Board required her to pay a poll tax.
    • The poll tax was $1.50 and the money went to pay for schools.
  • Harper didn’t have the money to pay, so she sued, claiming that the poll tax was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
    • Harper argued that the poll tax unconstitutionally stopped the poor from voting.
    • In addition, the 24th Amendment specifically prohibited poll taxes, but was only applicable to Federal elections. Harper was suing over a State election.
  • The Trial Court found for the Election Board. Harper appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court reversed and found the poll tax to be unconstitutional.
    • The US Supreme Court found that poll taxes were a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
      • “A State violates the Equal Protection Clause whenever it makes the affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard. Voter qualifications have no relation to wealth.”
    • Because voting is considered to be a fundamental right, the Court applied a strict scrutiny review.
  • This decision also effectively incorporated the 24th Amendment into the States.