The Boswell amendment to the Alabama constitution was passed by the Alabama Legislature in 1945 and ratified by the Alabama electorate the next year, requiring a prospective voter to "understand and explain" any section of the U.S. Constitution.
Proposed by State Senator E. C. "Bud" Boswell from Geneva County.
Designed "as a device for eliminating Negro applicants."
Passed in response to increased efforts by Alabama blacks to vote after a 1944 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Smith v. Allwright, overturned the white primary.
Blacks' response to law: 1948 lawsuits against the amendment by Birmingham and Mobile branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and by the Voters and Veterans' League, a Mobile organization formed to increase the number of black voters.
Results of litigation: Federal district court ruling in 1949, Davis et. al. v. Schnell
et. al., declaring the law unconstitutional, a violation of the fifteenth amendment.
Represented efforts by Alabama whites to stem the tide of post-World War II black protests against disfranchisement.
An example of traditional methods used by southern white legislative bodies to eliminate blacks as voters in the post-Reconstruction South.
The reaction of black Alabamians to the law is an example of their assertiveness in racial matters after World War II.