Smith v. Allwright and Voting Suppression (1944)

Smith v. Allwright was a landmark United States Supreme Court case decided in 1944. The lawsuit challenged the Texas Democratic Party's practice of allowing only White people to participate in primary elections, even though primary elections were essential in choosing political candidates and effectively controlled who would hold public office. Lonnie E. Smith, a Black American man, attempted to vote in the Democratic primary in Texas but was denied the right to do so by the party officials. He then sued the party and its secretary, Ike Allwright, for violating his Fifteenth Amendment right to vote. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Smith, finding that the Texas Democratic Party's exclusion of Black voters from its primary elections violated the Fifteenth Amendment's guarantee of the right to vote regardless of race. This decision struck down the "White primary" system used by many Southern states to exclude Black voters from participating in the political process.


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