Harman v. Forssenius

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Harman v. Forssenius
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 1–2, 1965
Decided April 27, 1965
Full case name Harman v. Forssenius
Citations 380 U.S. 528 (more)
85 S. Ct. 1177; 14 L. Ed. 2d 50; 1965 U.S. LEXIS 1347
Virginia's law partially eliminating the poll tax violated the Twenty-fourth Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
Tom C. Clark · John M. Harlan II
William J. Brennan, Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Arthur Goldberg
Case opinions
Majority Warren, joined by unanimous

Harman v. Forssenius was a 1965 United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that Virginia's partial elimination of the poll tax violated the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Virginia attempted to avoid the effect of the 24th Amendment by creating an "escape clause" to the poll tax. In lieu of paying the poll tax, a prospective voter could apply for a certificate establishing a place of residence in Virginia. The application had to be made six months prior to an election, a measure expected to decrease the number of eligible voters.[1]

In the 1965 Supreme Court decision of Harman v. Forssenius, the Court unanimously found such measures unconstitutional and declared that, for federal elections, "the poll tax is abolished absolutely as a prerequisite to voting, and no equivalent or milder substitute may be imposed."[2] This decision essentially was the death knell for the poll tax in Virginia.


  1. ^ Chadwick, John (January 24, 1964). "Poll Tax Battle Long One". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. 
  2. ^ Harman v. Forssenius, majority opinion.