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shall be applied in the regulation of corporations and conditions of labor.1 The newer constitutions are especially full and explicit in these points; they not only provide that corporations shall be chartered under general rather than special laws, but they go into great detail with regard to public service corporations. Northern constitutions for example, those of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana - dispose of the matter in relatively few words; but the constitution of Virginia, drafted in 1902, contains twelve large and closely printed pages on the subject of corporations alone; while Oklahoma gives fourteen pages of the same size to that branch of law. These newer constitutions limit very narrowly the activities of corporations. They provide for a corporation commission with large powers in the regulation of rates, charges, and general conduct of corporate business. Oklahoma provides for physical valuation of railways; endeavors to prevent stock watering; fixes a rate of two cents a mile for carrying passengers, subject to change by the legislature and corporation commission; and prohibits the consolidation of competing companies and the establishment of monopolies. On behalf of labor, the Oklahoma constitution provides for a separate state department, prohibits the contracting of convict labor, stipulates an eight-hour day in all public employments, orders the legislature to pass laws protecting the health and safety of employees in factories, mines, and on railroads."
V. The fifth part of our composite constitution contains a large variety of miscellaneous provisions designed to promote general welfare. It usually includes sections relative to the public schools and the state educational system; the Nebraska constitution, for example, requires the legislature to provide free instruction in the common schools of the state for all persons between the ages of five and twenty-five; it sets aside certain revenues for educational purposes; and creates a board of regents for the state university and prescribes their duties. Under these general provisions we also find clauses regulating or prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, providing for the care and maintenance of the poor, exempting homesteads from forced sales for debt except under prescribed conditions, 1 Readings, p. 91 and 610.
'See Thorpe, American Charters, Constitutions and Organic Laws, Vol. VII, pp. 3936, 4300. See below, chap. xxxii.
fixing the maximum rates of interest, safeguarding public health, creating charitable and eleemosynary institutions, and controlling the care and management of public property.1
VI. The last part of our composite constitution makes provision for future alterations by prescribing the way in which amendments may be proposed and adopted.2
The State Courts and the Constitution
The constitution of a state is its fundamental law, and stands very nearly in the same relation to the authorities of the state in which the federal Constitution stands to federal authorities.' In other words, it is the supreme law of the commonwealth, and the state courts are bound to hold unconstitutional the act of any state authority, legislative or executive, which violates that supreme law. This principle, which met with some resistance in the beginning of our history, has now been universally accepted. "In exercising this high authority," it has been said, "the judges claim no judicial supremacy; they are only the administrators of public will. If an act of the legislature is held void, it is not because the judges have any control over the legislative power, but because the act is forbidden by the constitution and because the will of the people which is therein declared is paramount to that of their representatives expressed in any law."
In passing upon the constitutionality of acts of the legislature, the courts of New York have laid down certain principles which are quite commonly accepted throughout the United States.' The constitution should be so construed as best to promote the objects for which it was made, avoiding the two extremes of a wide and a strict construction; statutes are presumed to be constitutional; an act must be constitutional in substance as well as in form; the constitutionality of statutes is not to be passed upon unless necessary to the decision of the case in ques
Below, chap. xxiii, and Readings, p. 411.
In Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, the judges of the high court are required to give opinions when requested by the governor or legislature, or both.
The state judges are also bound to declare void a state act violating the federal Constitution.
5 From the Legislative Manual of New York (1908), pp. 83 ff.
tion; no statute should be declared unconstitutional unless it is in direct, clear, and necessary conflict with the constitution; a law, unconstitutional in part, may be enforced as to its constitutional provisions. A statute evading the terms and frustrating the general and clearly expressed or necessarily implied purposes of the constitution is as certainly void as if expressly forbidden; in the case of an act susceptible of valid or invalid construction courts should lean to construction of validity; if an act is corruptly administered, this is no reason for holding it unconstitutional; the long and undisputed practice in the construction of a constitutional provision by the legislature has almost the force of judicial exposition in its interpretation.
The ultimate political power in every state, subject to the limitations of the federal Constitution, is vested in those persons who possess the qualifications required for exercise of the suffrage under the fundamental law of the state. These qualifications may be classified into five groups: age, sex, residence, citizenship, and miscellaneous.
All of the states have adopted the ancient English rule of fixing the age limit at twenty-one years.
Four of the states, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, have conferred the right to vote at all elections upon women as well as men.1 In Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and some other states women may vote in school elections; in Kansas, women vote in municipal elections; and in New York, women otherwise qualified, whenever they own property in the village or town, may vote in village elections and town meetings on questions involving taxation.
Undoubtedly there is a general tendency to extend the suffrage to women, on account of their growing demand for it. They claim that they are as vitally interested in government - in
A constitutional amendment providing for woman's suffrage was submitted to the voters in Oregon in June, 1906. It was defeated by a vote of 47,075 to 36,902. The same question had been submitted in that state in 1900, when it was defeated by a vote of 28,402 to 26,265. In 1908, it was again defeated by a large majority.
taxation, sanitation, labor legislation, tariff, pure food laws, and the like as are the men.1 They also urge that it cannot be a mere question of intelligence, for if a standard of intelligence were applied which would exclude the entire female sex, it would at the same time sadly deplete the ranks of the male voters. Those who hold that the domestic occupations of women would be disturbed by the exercise of the franchise are met by the argument that millions of women are now wage-earners out of the home, and that anyhow voting is no more incompatible with cooking than with any ordinary masculine occupation. Moreover, the fact is certain that where the women have the vote, domestic life is not harmed in any way. Finally, those who claim that women really do not care for the vote are met by the argument that where they are given the right they do manifest a decided interest in the franchise. Ex-Governor Adams of Colorado says that "in his own residence precinct in Pueblo, at the 1902 state election, 46 per cent, and at the 1903 municipal election 44 per cent, of the total vote was cast by women." Another estimate shows that the proportion of the total vote (19041905) cast by women in Colorado ranged from 46 per cent at the municipal election in the best residence precincts to 25 per cent at the state election in an agricultural and horticultural region where, as is well known, it is difficult to get the men out to vote. The figures for Colorado are undoubtedly incomplete, but they show that women do take the exercise of their political rights quite seriously.2
The length of residence required in a state before any person is allowed to vote varies from three months in Maine to two years in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. Several of the states Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Oregon, for example fix the term at six months. The most common rule, however, is one year the rule in force, for instance, in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Nearly all of the states require voters to be bona-fide citizens of the United States; but Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan,
For arguments on both sides, see Readings, p. 405.
2 On this whole matter, see the careful study by Miss Helen Sumner, Equal Suffrage.
Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin admit to the suffrage aliens who have declared their intention of becoming citizens. This practice of conferring political rights upon foreigners was early adopted to encourage immigration, but within recent years it has met with serious protests, and no doubt it will be abandoned in due time.
Among the special limitations imposed by the states on suffrage are tax and educational tests, and the peculiar tests applied in the South to exclude the negroes. Tax qualifications are imposed
by only a few states. The constitution of Arkansas requires the voter to exhibit a poll tax receipt or other evidence that he has paid his poll tax; Tennessee likewise requires the payment of a poll tax; and the constitution of Pennsylvania provides that voters of twenty-two years of age or upwards must have paid within two years a state or county tax, assessed at least two months, and paid at least one month, before election. In some of the southern states the tax-paying qualification forms one of the alternative qualifications laid on voters.
Almost one-third of the states impose some kind of an educational test, either as an absolute or optional qualification.3 Massachusetts, for example, requires the voter to be able to read the constitution of the state in the English language and write his own name, if he is not prevented by physical disability or was not over sixty years of age at the time the amendment went into effect. Connecticut likewise prescribes that the citizen must be prepared to read, in the English language, any article
1 Readings, p. 143.
2 Idiots, insane persons, and criminals are excluded from the right to vote. 3 In 1906, thirteen States Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, and Wyoming - had a reading qualification. Eight of these states added some sort of a writing qualification, some requiring the voter to write his name, while in others the voter had to write a portion of the constitution; one state required the voter to write out the application for registration. In the southern states, however, the force of the educational qualifications is generally greatly diminished by exempting from them large classes of persons by "grandfather clauses" or by provisions exempting property owners from the requirements. Some of the other states exempted persons who were voters at the time of the adoption of the requirement. Most of the thirteen states also exempted persons who were physically unable to read or write. John B. Phillips, Educational Qualifications of Voters, University of Colorado Studies, Vol. III, pp. 55 ff.