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Coleman v. Miller

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Significance: In deciding three issues regarding the ratification of a child labor constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court introduced the Fourteenth Amendment, adding considerable confusion to the process.


Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote the opinion for the 7-2 majority with Justices Pierce Butler and James C. McReynolds dissenting. The Court left standing a lower court's decision that the lieutenant-governor of Kansas could cast a tie-breaking vote in the constitutional amendment ratification process. It also found the state's ratification of an amendment it had previously rejected and the issue of whether time limits should exist for ratification of amendments to be political questions for Congress to resolve. Congress later began to add time limits to all proposed constitutional amendments. The vagueness of Coleman confused the ratification process for amendments to the U.S. Constitution by introducing Fourteenth Amendment considerations. Subsequently, Coleman was limited by Idaho v. Freeman (1981), in which the Court allowed a state to rescind its ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment after the original deadline was extended by Congress.