Next question in the series "Things You Should Know According to Your Neighborhood Lawyer - Constitution Edition"

Question 5: How could Jeannette Rankin have served in Congress before the Nineteenth Amendment (woman suffrage) was adopted?

Answer: “The Constitution never prohibited women from voting or serving in public office, leaving that for the states to decide. Several western states adopted woman suffrage in advance of the constitutional amendment. Jeannette Rankin had been a leader in the movement to gain women’s right to vote in Montana, and in 1916, after the state changed its laws, she was elected to Congress. After 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment prohibited the states from barring women from voting” (The U.S. Constitution Knowledge Cards ®)

The 19th Amendment of the U.S. states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." The fight for women’s suffrage began long before Jeannette Rankin ran for office. During the mid-1800s, women began to organize themselves and petitioned for the right to vote. In 1878 the amendment was first introduced in Congress, but it was not ratified until August 18, 1920. Over those 42 years, women from all walks of life petitioned, picketed, and protested for their voices to be heard, asking the question posed by activist Alice Paul: “Mr. President how long must women wait to get their liberty? Let us have the rights we deserve.” If you are interested in learning more about Alice Paul and the women’s suffrage movement, check out the book Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the Right to Vote by Tina Cassidy. 


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Question Source: The U.S. Constitution Knowledge Cards ® 

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