According to Mr. Antieau the Fifteenth Amendment was intended to give equal right to vote to all citizens regardless of color and it has generally been successful in protecting the rights of Negroes to the suffrage, even in state elections.
Like the equal protection clause, this Amendment requires “state action,” but a liberal and realistic judicial interpretation has given vigor to the Amendment in invalidating inequalities against Negroes in many aspects of the right to vote.
Since there was no voting discrimination against Negroes in Breedlove v. Suttles, the decision in that case is not authority for the constitutionality of poll taxes aimed at, and accomplishing, the disenfranchisement of Negroes.
Such a poll tax statute may well be unconstitutional under the Fifteenth Amendment.-‘ It is very clear that any ingenious device, such as literacy tests and “understanding the Constitution” requirements, will be unconstitutional under the Fifteenth Amendment, as well as under the equal protection clause, when its purpose is the disenfranchisement of the Negro or when this is the practical result of a seemingly fair statute’s application with an unequal and discriminatory hand.’
The Fifteenth Amendment is limited in its use to an important but narrow area of inequality and its advantages are limited to members of the Negro race. The possibilities of the equal protection clause are far greater, given only a liberal and realistic interpretation of the “state action” qualifiation.