Lane v. Wilson

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Lane v. Wilson
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 3, 1939
Decided May 22, 1939
Full case name Lane v. Wilson et al.
Citations 307 U.S. 268 (more)
Court membership
Chief Justice
Charles E. Hughes
Associate Justices
James C. McReynolds · Pierce Butler
Harlan F. Stone · Owen J. Roberts
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas
Case opinions
Majority Frankfurter, joined by Hughes, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed
Dissent McReynolds, Butler
Douglas took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Lane v. Wilson, 307 U.S. 268 (1939),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case that found a 12-day one-time voter registration window to be discriminatory for black citizens and repugnant to the Fifteenth Amendment.


In 1915, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Guinn v. United States that a grandfather clause to Oklahoma's literacy test for voting was unconstitutional, violating the Fifteenth Amendment. In response, the Oklahoma legislature passed a law giving citizens of the state a 12-day period, from April 30 to May 11, 1916, in which they were allowed to register to vote. Individuals who missed that registration period would be barred permanently from voting. But, a grandfather clause exempting citizens who had voted in 1914, that is, before Guinn, largely exempted white voters from the provisions of the narrow registration window.[2][3][4] In practice the registration period worked against black citizens.

Lane, a black citizen of Oklahoma, was banned from voting under Oklahoma's rules, and sued for $5,000 in damages, the district court found against him, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of the district court. Lane appealed to the US Supreme Court.


Justice Frankfurter delivered the ruling of the court, holding that Oklahoma's registration window and grandfather clause violated the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Full text of the decision courtesy of Google Scholar
  2. ^ Carp, Robert A; Stidham, Ronald; Manning, Kenneth L (2013-02-01). Judicial Process in America, 9th Edition. CQ Press. pp. 297–. ISBN 9781452226323. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Cortés, Carlos E. (2013-09-03). Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia. SAGE Publications. pp. 986–. ISBN 9781452276267. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Pauley, Garth E. (2007). LBJ’s American Promise: The 1965 Voting Rights Address. Texas A&M University Press. pp. 33–. ISBN 9781585445813. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Baldino, Thomas Joseph; Kreider, Kyle L. (2010). Of the People, by the People, for the People: A Documentary Record of Voting Rights and Electoral Reform. ABC-CLIO. pp. 194–. ISBN 9780313385506. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 

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