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A grandfather clause (or grandfather policy, grandfathering, or grandfathered in) is a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. Those exempt from the new rule are said to have ''grandfather rights'' or ''acquired rights'', or to have been ''grandfathered in''. Frequently, the exemption is limited; it may extend for a set time, or it may be lost under certain circumstances. For example, a grandfathered
power plant A power station, also referred to as a power plant and sometimes generating station or generating plant, is an industrial facility for the generation A generation is "all of the people born and living Living or The Living may refer to: ...

power plant
might be exempt from new, more restrictive pollution laws, but the exception may be revoked and the new rules would apply if the plant were expanded. Often, such a provision is used as a
compromise To compromise is to make a deal between different parties where each party gives up part of their demand. In arguments, compromise is a concept of finding agreement through communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to ...
or out of practicality, to allow new rules to be enacted without upsetting a well-established logistical or
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

political
situation. This extends the idea of a rule not being retroactively applied. The term originated in late nineteenth-century legislation and constitutional amendments passed by a number of U.S.
Southern The name Southern may refer to: * South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earl ...
states, which created new requirements for
literacy test A literacy test assesses a person's literacy skills: their ability to Reading, read and Writing, write. Literacy tests have been administered by various governments to immigrants. In the United States, between the 1850s and 1960s, literacy tests ...
s, payment of poll taxes, and/or residency and property restrictions to register to vote. States in some cases exempted those whose ancestors ( grandfathers) had the right to vote before the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
, or as of a particular date, from such requirements. The intent and effect of such rules was to prevent
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
former
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved per ...
and their descendants from voting, but without denying poor and illiterate whites the right to vote. Although these original grandfather clauses were eventually ruled unconstitutional, the terms ''grandfather clause'' and ''grandfather'' have been adapted to other uses.


Origin

The original grandfather clauses were contained in new state constitutions and
Jim Crow law Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into racial or other Ethnicity, ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the intern ...
s passed between 1890 and 1908 by white-dominated
state legislatures A state legislature is a Legislature, legislative branch or body of a State (country subdivision), political subdivision in a Federalism, federal system. Two federations literally use the term "state legislature": * The legislative branches of e ...
including
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...

Alabama
,
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
,
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
,
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
,
Oklahoma Oklahoma () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, bordered by the state of Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, New ...
, and
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
. They restricted
voter registration In electoral systems, voter registration (or enrolment) is the requirement that a person otherwise eligible to vote must register (or enroll) on an electoral roll, which is usually a prerequisite for being entitled or permitted to vote. The rul ...
, effectively preventing
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
from voting. Racial restrictions on voting in place before 1870 were nullified by the Fifteenth Amendment. After Democrats took control of state legislatures again before and after the
Compromise of 1877 The Compromise of 1877 was an unwritten deal, informally arranged among U.S. Congressmen, that settled the intensely disputed 1876 presidential election. It resulted in the United States federal government pulling the last troops out of the So ...
, they began to work to restrict the ability of blacks to vote.
Paramilitary A paramilitary organization is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military A military, also known collectively as armed f ...
groups such as the
White League The White League, also known as the White Man's League, was a white paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray "urban camouflage". A paramilitary organization (al ...
, Red Shirts, and rifle clubs had intimidated blacks or barred them from the polls in numerous elections before what they called the
Redemption Redemption may refer to: Religion * Redemption (theology), an element of salvation to express deliverance from sin * Redemptive suffering, a Roman Catholic belief that suffering can partially remit punishment for sins if offered to Jesus * Pidyo ...
(restoration of white supremacy). Nonetheless, a coalition of Populists and Republicans in fusion tickets in the 1880s and 1890s gained some seats and won some governor positions. To prevent such coalitions in the future, the Democrats wanted to exclude freedmen and other blacks from voting; in some states they also restricted poor whites to avoid biracial coalitions. White Democrats developed statutes and passed new constitutions creating restrictive voter registration rules. Examples included imposition of poll taxes and residency and
literacy tests A literacy test assesses a person's literacy Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write in at least one method of writing, an understanding reflected by mainstream dictionaries. Correspondingly, the term ''illiterac ...
. An exemption to such requirements was made for all persons allowed to vote before the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
, and any of their
descendants Descendant(s) or descendent(s) may refer to: * Lineal descendant A lineal descendant, in legal usage, is a blood relative in the direct line of descent – the children Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human being between the st ...

descendants
. The term ''grandfather clause'' arose from the fact that the laws tied the then-current generation's voting rights to those of their grandfathers. According to Black's ''Law Dictionary'', some Southern states adopted constitutional provisions exempting from the literacy requirements descendants of those who fought in the army or navy of the United States or of the Confederate States during a time of war. After the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
found such provisions unconstitutional in '' Guinn v. United States'' (1915), states were forced to stop using the grandfather clauses to provide exemption to literacy tests. Without the grandfather clauses, tens of thousands of poor Southern whites were
disenfranchisedDisfranchisement, also called disenfranchisement, or voter disqualification is the revocation of suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes use ...
in the early 20th century. As decades passed, Southern states tended to expand the franchise for poor whites, but most blacks could not vote until after passage of the 1965
Voting Rights Act Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, in order to make a collective decision making, decision or express an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracy, Democracie ...
. Ratification in 1964 of the
Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Twenty-fourth Amendment (Amendment XXIV) of the United States Constitution prohibits both US Congress, Congress and the US states, states from conditioning the right to vote in US federal election, federal elections on payment of a Poll tax ...
prohibited the use of poll taxes in federal elections, but some states continued to use them in state elections. The 1965
Voting Rights Act Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, in order to make a collective decision making, decision or express an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracy, Democracie ...
had provisions to protect voter registration and access to elections, with federal enforcement and supervision where necessary. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled in '' Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections'' that poll taxes could not be used in any elections. This secured the franchise for most citizens, and voter registration and turnout climbed dramatically in Southern states. There is also a rather different, older type of ''grandfather clause'', perhaps more properly a ''grandfather principle'' in which a government blots out transactions of the recent past, usually those of a predecessor government. The modern analogue may be repudiating public debt, but the original was
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...

Henry II
's principle, preserved in many of his judgments, "Let it be as it was on the day of my grandfather's death", a principle by which he repudiated all the royal grants that had been made in the previous 19 years under King Stephen.


Modern examples


See also

*
Generally recognized as safe Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . ...
*
Generally recognized as safe and effective Generally recognized as safe and effective (abbreviated as GRASE, GRAS/E, or GRAS/GRAE) is designation for certain old drugs that do not require prior approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration The United States of America (USA), co ...
*
Grace period A grace period is a period immediately after the deadline for an obligation during which a late fee, or other action that would have been taken as a result of failing to meet the deadline, is waived provided that the obligation is satisfied during ...
*
Nonconforming use Nonconforming use is a type of zoning Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity) ...
*
Sunset provision In public policy Public policy is an institutionalized proposal to solve relevant and real-world problems, guided by a conception and implemented by programs as a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
* '' Williams v. Mississippi''


References


Further reading

*
Grandfather Clause in ''From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality''
{{DEFAULTSORT:Grandfather Clause History of voting rights in the United States
Legal terminology {{CatAutoTOC Terms Jargon Terminology Terms Terminology Terminology is a general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use. This is also known as termino ...
United States law Politics of the Southern United States