By Nancy TurnerAm. U. L. Rev. 1503 (2015)


The Twenty-Sixth Amendment is commonly understood as lowering the voting age to eighteen. However, a close look at the Amendment’s language and history indicates that the Twenty-Sixth Amendment does more than just grant a right. Properly read, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment acts as an anti-discrimination law similar to the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Nineteenth Amendments. Accordingly, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment possesses the power not just to invalidate legislation that explicitly contravenes its purpose, but also to neutralize facially neutral legislation that was enacted with a discriminatory intent. Using Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment jurisprudence as a guide, this Comment proposes a framework for structuring Twenty-Sixth Amendment claims against facially neutral legislation. It argues that where claimants can show that a law was enacted for the purpose of impeding the youth vote, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment should trigger strict judicial scrutiny. It uses North Carolina’s new voting legislation, the Voter Information Verification Act, to illustrate how a group of students may demonstrate that this facially neutral legislation was enacted for the purpose of frustrating young and student voters.

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