Jacob S. Boreman Opposes Women's Suffrage
October 15, 1880

The Utah Territory granted women the right to vote in 1870, and the territory's Supreme Court upheld the act ten years later. In this dissent, however, Jacob S. Boreman, argued that the act was "unconstitutional, unjust and unfair."

Upon the merits of the case I cannot agree with a majority of the Court. I deem this to be a proper case in which to issue the writ. The Legislature had no authority to allow anybody to vote who were not citizens or who had not declared their intentions to become such. It has never enacted that parties who had declared their intentions to become citizens might vote. Therefore the registering officer is not authorized to allow anybody to vote who are not citizens. The statute granting suffrage to women allows them to vote without being citizens if they are “the wife, widow or the daughter of a native-born or naturalized citizen.” Such a provision is utterly void, in my opinion, and it is the duty of the registering officer to obey the law of Congress and not that of the Territory, when they conflict.

The act conferring the elective franchise upon women is unjust, as granting the franchise to women upon easier terms than to males. Men are required to be tax-payers by the statute, but not so with women; the men are all required to be residents, but not so the women, if they be the “wife, widow, or daughter;" and all men who ask to vote must be citizens, or they will be rejected, but not so with all women. This matter of citizenship is important, when we consider that the bulk of the population of this Territory is of foreign birth, or children born in this Territory of foreign parents. The statute granting the elective franchise to women destroys the uniformity and impartiality which should exist in regard to the qualifications of voters, and the act which will do this is unjust and ought not to be upheld. I do not think that it will do to say that the requirement as to male voters, which is not found amongst the requirements of the female voters, will be nugatory. We have no right to conclude that this is so. The Legislature has expressed itself to the contrary. It first passed the statute allowing males to vote, requiring them to be citizens, etc. It afterwards passed the statute granting the elective franchise to women, and substantially it enacts the registration law, wherein it retains all the qualifications originally required as to male voters. It certainly, therefore, had no intention of repealing any part thereof. The two laws in regard to suffrage show great unfairness and lack of uniformity between the requirements of male voters and those of female voters, but as the Legislature so intended, what authority have we to say that the one repeals the other. This certainly does not exist by implication as they are statutes regarding different classes. The two laws are not inconsistent further than that one is unconstitutional, unjust and unfair to the body of voters mentioned in the first, and being so should not be upheld. If the Legislature had power to make one set of qualifications for one class of voters and another set for another class of voters, then the two laws can stand, but if the Legislature has not such power, its attempt to do so is nugatory and void.

For these reasons thus hastily stated I am unable to agree with my associates in denying the writ in this case.


Women's Exponent (Salt Lake City, Utah), October 15, 1880