Dunn v. Blumstein (1972)

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In Dunn v. Blumstein (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Tennessee’s durational residency requirement to vote. The law required a one-year residency in the state and a thirty-day residency in the county in order to vote. The state had argued that the durational requirement prevented fraud and made the voters knowledgeable, but the Court said that a substantial period of residency failed the strict scrutiny test: there was not an overriding reason to curtail a right as fundamental as voting. The Court pointed out that Congress in the 1970 Voting Rights Act set thirty days of residency in a state to make a person eligible to vote in a presidential election, and that was an ample period for a state to complete whatever administrative tasks that are necessary to prevent fraud. An appropriately defined and uniformly applied requirement of bona fide residence may be necessary for a political community, but the durational requirement in this case abridged not only the right to vote, but also the right to travel, which is protected against state infringement by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Robert W. Langran

Last updated: 2006

SEE ALSO: Edwards v. California; Privileges and Immunities Clause: Fourteenth Amendment