Woman suffrage in Washington Territory declared unconstitutional in Nevada Bloomer case on August 14, 1888.

  • By Mildred Andrews
  • Posted 2/16/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5216
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On August 14, 1888, the Washington territorial Supreme Court rules the woman suffrage law unconstitutional. The court hears the trumped up case of Nevada Bloomer, a Spokane saloonkeeper's wife. (The liquor interests tended to oppose woman suffrage because women voters tended to oppose the liquor interests.)

Bloomer arranged to have her ballot rejected by precinct judges in a municipal election, then sued them. The Territorial Supreme Court played into Bloomer's hands by ruling against her, ruling the suffrage law void. It maintained that Congress had not intended to give the territories the authority to enfranchise women.

Suffragists responded by raising $5,000 to appeal the decision before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bloomer refused to cooperate. Without her as plaintiff, there could be no appeal. Thus the decision of the Washington territorial Supreme Court that made woman suffrage unconstitutional stood.


John Fahey, "The Nevada Bloomer Case," Columbia (summer, 1988), 42-46; T. A. Larson, "The Woman Suffrage Movement in Washington," Pacific Northwest Quarterly No. 2 (April, 1976).

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