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Davis, C. Aycock, J. Cutrer, Jr. Kennedy, Burke Marshall, Washington, D. Jack P. Gremillion, Carroll Buck, Harry J. Kron, Jr. McFerrin, Baton Rouge, La. A wall stands in Louisiana between registered voters and unregistered, eligible Negro voters. The wall is the State constitutional requirement that an applicant for registration "understand and give a reasonable interpretation of any section" of the Constitutions of Louisiana or of the United States.

It is not the only wall of its kind, but since the Supreme Court's demolishment of the white primary, the interpretation test has been the highest, best-guarded, most effective barrier to Negro voting in Louisiana. Or, the registrar may ask the applicant to interpret a less technical but more difficult provision, constitutionally, such as, "Every person has the natural right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. In many parishes the registrar is not easily satisfied with constitutional interpretations from Negro applicants.

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We hold: this wall, built to bar Negroes from access to the franchise, must come down. The understanding clause or interpretation test is not a literacy requirement. It has no rational relation to measuring the ability of an elector to read and write. It is a test of an elector's ability to interpret the Louisiana and United States Constitutions. Considering this law in its historical setting and considering too the actual operation and inescapable effect of the law, it is evident that the test is a sophisticated scheme to disfranchise Negroes. The test is unconstitutional as written and as administered.

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The United States brings this action against the State of Louisiana and the directors and members of the Louisiana Board of Registration. When an official of the State or of a subdivision of the State is found to have discriminated against United States citizens in violation of 42 U.

See United States v. Alabama,U. Dogan, 5 Cir. Lynd, 5 Cir. Atkins, 5 Cir. Section is clearly appropriate legislation under the Fifteenth Amendment, to say nothing of other sources of constitutional authority, and in United States v. Fox, E. See also United States v. Raines,U. Independently of Section b"The obligations which [United States] is under to promote the interests of all and to prevent the wrongdoing of one resulting in injury to the general welfare, is often of itself sufficient to give it a standing in court".

In re Debs,U. When the alleged wrongdoing is based on a State law which is contrary to the superior authority of the United States Constitution, the Nation, as well as the aggrieved individuals, is injured. When a private litigant invokes the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, he must be able to show that State action is involved in the denial of his rights. Anomalously, he cannot sue the State, but must sue agents of the State on the theory that if the act to be enforced is unconstitutional, it is not the act of the State.

Ex parte Young,U. This necessary fiction to accommodate the Eleventh Amendment provides no basis for any argument that the State cannot be made a party to this action. Here, no private litigant but the Nation itself is attacking the constitutionality of the laws of Louisiana. Louisiana therefore is the real party at interest and a proper party defendant. The Eleventh Amendment has no application to an action brought by the United States in its sovereign capacity. Principality of Monaco v. Mississippi,U. The State and its agent, the Board of Registration, have the power and duty to prescribe rules and regulations governing the administration of voter qualification laws in Louisiana.

The court has jurisdiction under 42 U. Since the suit challenges the validity of provisions of the State Constitution and certain statutes and presents substantial constitutional questions, it is a proper case to be heard by a three-judge court. Under the Constitution of Louisiana, registration, which is a prerequisite to voting in any election, is conducted in each parish by a registrar of voters.

Except in Orleans Parish, the registrar is appointed by the police jury or other governing body of the parish. The United States attacks the understanding and interpretation requirement as violative of 42 U. There is no for the loose statement that in our constitutional system the qualification of voters is "exclusively" committed to the States. See, for example, Darby v. Daniel, S. More accurately, the States, under Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution and the Seventeenth Amendment, are free to establish voting qualifications only if the qualifications do not transgress the United States Constitution.

Ex parte Clarke,U. Northampton County Bd. The books are filled with examples of state election laws and practices found to transgress constitutional guaranties. Guinn v. United States,U. Wilson,U. Classic,U. Schnell,S. In United States v. Classica "Louisiana" case, the Supreme Court, in sustaining federal indictments against state election officials for falsely certifying returns in a congressional election, said:.

In ex parte Yarbrough,U. Three provisions of the United States Constitution deny plenary and exclusive power to the States to determine voting requirements and give special protection to a citizen against discrimination in the electoral process. Two are mandates expressly prohibiting discriminatory state action. The third is an affirmative grant of power to the United States. The first and most important is the Fifteenth Amendment.

Uncomplicated by phrases freighted with history back to Magna Carta, the Fifteenth Amendment imposes on courts the unshirkable duty of inquiring into legislative purpose and striking down a fair-seeming law that, "on of race", is in fact a discriminatory device to deprive Negroes of their vote. Second, the Fourteenth Amendment, primarily by the "equal protection" clause, prohibits discriminatory voting qualifications. Nixon v. Herndon,U. Sharpe,U. See also In re Supervisors of Election, C. Ohio23 Fed.

Manning, W. Maryland,4 Wheat.

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Darby,U. The "necessary and proper" clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, gives Congress full authority to legislate under Article 1, Section 4 or any other constitutional grant of power ; the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 5, specifically grants power to Congress to pass "appropriate legislation" to prevent the denial of equal protection of the laws; the Fifteenth Amendment, Section 2, specifically grants power to Congress to pass "appropriate legislation" to guarantee that the right to vote shall not be abridged on of race.

Ex parte Virginia,U. The Supremacy Clause, Article VI, subordinates any conflicting state legislation to congressional legislation.

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United States v. That is rather an axiom of experience than a rule of law, and does not preclude consideration of persuasive evidence if its exists". Boston Sand and Gravel Co. In going beyond the verbal surface of the Louisiana interpretation test, we have sought to eschew inquiry into motive.

A federal court's proper respect for the State and the judiciary's due regard for the legislative process, among other reasons, compel this restraint.

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Candor compels the admission however that in this case the line between the motive of the lawmakers and the purpose of law is blurred. Blur or not, the court cannot, on the one hand, carry out its judicial function of giving effect to legislative intent, or, on the other hand, invalidate the law under a reasonable construction fair to the framers, without first determining the purpose of the law.

As we see it, purpose carries the meaning of Coke's "true reason" for the law in the light of the situation at which it is aimed. Heydon's Case, 3 Co. They are expressions of policy arising out of specific situations and addressed to the attainment of particular ends. Purpose then, or the "true reason" for the law, determined as objectively as possible, is an essential part of the context within which a law must be read, if the Court is to appraise fairly the validity of the law.

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Llewellyn stated this well:. See also N. Button,U. Hutcheson, 4 Cir. To Louisianians familiar with the history of their state, it must seem an exercise in futility for the Court to labor the proof of the true reason for the understanding or interpretation test. However, two decisions by three-judge courts in this circuit put a high premium on the Court's ascertaining the true reason for the test. These are Davis v. Schnell, S. In Davis v. The Court, in Darby v. Danielheld the Mississippi understanding clause constitutional and distinguished Davis v.

Schnellin part because the plaintiff had failed to show that Mississippi's understanding clause was intended to discriminate against Negroes. A court may find that a law non-discriminatory on its face is discriminatorily administered. Hopkins,U. The legislative purpose and inevitable effect of a law non-discriminatory on its face may be decisive in determining the unconstitutionality of the law. In Gomillion v. Lightfoot,U. Borden,7 How.

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United States v. State of Louisiana, F. Supp. (E.D. La. )