Inequalities in voting in federal elections, including primaries, can be successfully removed under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution and complementary congressional legislation-‘ Since here there is no Constitutional requirement of “state action,” this clause has potentiality within the limited area of federal elections far superior to either the equal protection clause or the Fifteenth Amendment. A disadvantage exists in that hereinunder there is no possibility of relief from state-imposed discriminations in state elections. It is confidently expected that privately-imposed discriminations and inequalities, laden with inequalities for racial or other groups, can be reached and punished under federal legislation authorized by this clause.
In Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886), the Supreme Court has clarified that the meaning of “person” and “within its jurisdiction” in the Equal Protection Clause would not be limited to discrimination against African Americans, but would extend to other races, colors, and nationalities such as (in this case) legal aliens in the United States who are Chinese citizens:
These provisions are universal in their application to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality, and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws.
Persons “within its jurisdiction” are entitled to equal protection from a state. Largely because the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV has from the beginning guaranteed the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, the Supreme Court has rarely construed the phrase “within its jurisdiction” in relation to natural persons. In Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 210–16 (1982) where the Court hold that aliens illegally present in a state are within its jurisdiction and may thus raise equal protection claims the Court explicated the meaning of the phrase “within its jurisdiction” as follows: “[U]se of the phrase “within its jurisdiction” confirms the understanding that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection extends to anyone, citizen or stranger, who is subject to the laws of a State, and reaches into every corner of a State’s territory.” The Court reached this understanding among other things from Senator Howard, a member of the Joint Committee of Fifteen, and the floor manager of the amendment in the Senate. Senator Howard was explicit about the broad objectives of the Fourteenth Amendment and the intention to make its provisions applicable to all who “may happen to be” within the jurisdiction of a state:
The last two clauses of the first section of the amendment disable a State from depriving not merely a citizen of the United States, but any person, whoever he may be, of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or from denying to him the equal protection of the laws of the State. This abolishes all class legislation in the States and does away with the injustice of subjecting one caste of persons to a code not applicable to another. … It will, if adopted by the States, forever disable every one of them from passing laws trenching upon those fundamental rights and privileges which pertain to citizens of the United States, and to all person who may happen to be within their jurisdiction. [emphasis added by the U.S. Supreme Court]
The relationship between the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments was addressed by Justice Field in Wong Wing v. United States (1896). He observed with respect to the phrase “within its jurisdiction”: “The term ‘person,’ used in the Fifth Amendment, is broad enough to include any and every human being within the jurisdiction of the republic. A resident, alien born, is entitled to the same protection under the laws that a citizen is entitled to. He owes obedience to the laws of the country in which he is domiciled, and, as a consequence, he is entitled to the equal protection of those laws. … The contention that persons within the territorial jurisdiction of this republic might be beyond the protection of the law was heard with pain on the argument at the bar—in face of the great constitutional amendment which declares that no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.