Vermont Jury Service for Women Act (1942)
|Statutes referred by Legislature|
|Amending the Vermont Constitution|
The measure earned an affirmative vote in each of Vermont's 14 counties.
Women in Vermont began to organize for the right to serve on juries starting in 1923.
The vote on the "Jury Service for Women Act" was authorized by the Vermont State Legislature on March 11, 1942. Voters were asked to choose whether the law would go into effect on February 1, 1943 or February 1, 1947, and they chose the earlier date. The vote came when the nation was at war. An editorial in the Burlington Free Press said, "most people have been so busy with war problems this year that they have not given as much time as usual to purely political issues" and urged readers to vote in favor of women jurors: "[J]ury service is so closely allied to citizenship that the two must go together. Now that women have been admitted to citizenship on an equal basis with men, it is absurd to deny them jury service; and it is probably unconstitutional..."
There were opponents, including those who argued that the Vermont Constitution did not contemplate women jurors and that jury service would harm women and their families. Others argued that if the right to serve on juries was to be extended to women, they should have an easy opt-out provisions if they chose not to serve.
Opponents also believed that most women were opposed to jury service, and tried to limit those who could vote on this measure to women; that effort failed.