When the Bill of Rights was proposed, it was unthinkable that the right to vote would be included. That would have meant extending it to women, free Black people, and white people without property. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution gave the states the power to determine who could vote in federal elections.
That provision was subsequently modified by constitutional amendments, the 15th and 19th, that granted voting rights to newly freed Black people and women, respectively. However, as New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes noted in 1907 — 13 years before he became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court — “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is …”
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