Cal. Litig. 2020, Volume 33, Number 3

Black Votes Matter

By Justice Eileen C. Moore

The Honorable Eileen C. Moore has been an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three since 2000. For her book about bias against African Americans, Race Results: Hollywood vs the Supreme Court; Ten Decades of Racial Decision and Film, she received four national awards.

Happenings in the United States were frenzied and chaotic after the Civil War. Besides attending to matters of Reconstruction, the country was engaged in wars with Native Americans, a transcontinental railroad was being built, and record numbers of people were immigrating to the Western Territories. Many of the bills Congress passed to aid the freedmen were vetoed by Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson. Sometimes Congress was able to override those vetoes, but not always. Eventually Johnson was impeached, surviving conviction in the Senate by one vote. Somewhat amazingly, it was amidst such turmoil that the post-Civil War constitutional amendments were written by congressional supporters of recently freed slaves.

The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and was ratified in 1865. The Fourteenth Amendment granted national citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, and was ratified in 1868. The Fifteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to citizens of the United States regardless of their race and was ratified in 1870.

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