Misreading the 19th Amendment essay

The article by Jon Christian Ryter “Hillary Can’t Constitutionally Be Elected the President… In Fact, She Can’t Be the Vice-president either” is probably one of the most misleading and jugding interpretations of the United States Constitution I have ever read. While Ryter clearly does not take any sides in this piece, the fact that such a paltry issue was raised only gives birth to confusion, in what would, otherwise, be an easy matter.

Misreading the 19th Amendment The article says that women cannot, in any way, hold office as the President of the US, because the 19th Amendment, which gives American women the right to vote, states just that – the right to vote – and does not say anything about giving females access to the presidential seat.

Now, for a country that claims to be the most democratic among the rest of the nations in the world, and for a country whose level of intelligence is lauded, it seems very shallow to for several lawmakers to conclude that just because the 19th Amendment mentioned only the right to vote and did not say anything about women holding the presidential seat, that women have no right to claim the post at all. The argument against women holding office anchors mostly on the fact that Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution refers to the president as a ‘he’, as opposed to the other members of the government, Congress or Senate, as ‘the person’.

It seems that several lawmakers who took the document very literally assumed that this was what the Founding Fathers intended – that the president be, and only be, male. Even despite Yale professor of law Akhill Reed Amar said that the ‘he’ part of the document refers to ‘he or she’, constitutional purists still believe that the section’s ‘he’ was deliberately placed because it was not used in the other qualifications for the other government seats. Counter-American

Again, for a country that claims to be very liberal, this kind of interpretation is very uptight. In fact, it deviates from the kind of ‘freedom’ the United States teaches its citizens and the rest of the world. This very literal interpretation of the constitution is a very surprising kink. It doesn’t appear to be very American, at all. This is even further complicated by the fact that the 19th Amendment, though not specifically saying anything about women SEEKING to hold presidential office, has been interpreted as already allowing females to vie for it.

Now, doesn’t that contradict the very ‘limiting’ interpretation mentioned earlier? So, women can vote and TRY to become president of the United States, but, if elected, shall be subjected to an inquiry by the Supreme Court to determine if she truly can hold presidential office? This kind of idea is very elementary and absurd. Why would you encourage women to run for president when they won’t even be given a chance to become one, or, if they do garner enough votes, still have to face tedious inquiry?

Now, I don’t know if this interpretation is simply meant to limit the power Hillary Clinton might have over the American population. Perhaps her political detractors would not want her to hold seats. If this is so, then they should seek other ways to discredit her, instead of giving a very nursery-like argument that involves a very literal reading of the 19th Amendment and the presidential qualifications. The US is a nation that espouses equality for all, regardless of race, gender and political leanings.

This kind of intepretation is very un-American and un-intellectual. If it were to be anything, I’d say this is just an attempt to delay processes for some people’s personal gain. Officials should stop politicking and start doing their jobs well.


Ryter, Jon Christian (2004). Hillary can’t constitutionally be elected the president… in fact, she can’t be the vice president, either. Retrieved September 13, 2006 from http://www. jonchristianryter. com/2004/061304. htm