Excerpt from Brief of American Civil Liberties Union, Amicus Curiae, from COURT OF APPEALS (Briefs), Nos.100-106, Includes No. 105, Stuart v. Board of Elections, MSA SA 63, MSA T2088, MSA SC 2221-24-6-3.
Attorneys: Arold H. Ripperger & Assistant Attorney General
E. Stephen Derby
Issue: May a married woman register to vote in her birth name?
Stuart v. Board of Elections is the case of Mary Emily Stuart, a married woman who retained and registered to vote in her maiden name. After refusing to
complete a "Request for Change of Name" form for the Board of Elections, Stuart's voter registration was cancelled in 1971. Stuart promptly challenged the
Board's decision on the basis that, under English common law, a woman could assume her husband's name, retain her own, or be known by any other name
that she wished, so long as the name was never used for fraudulent purposes. Stuart argued that, even after her marriage, her maiden name continued to
appear on all legal documents, and that she had never used the name with fraudulent intent. However, when the court denied petitions to correct the voter
registry and restore her name, Mary Stuart appealed her case.
During the appeal, an order to dismiss the petitions
was vacated, and an evidentiary hearing was held before Judge T. Hunt Mayfield
in May of 1972. The
case was argued by E. Stephen Derby, Assistant Attorney General for the State Administrative Board of Election Laws, Charles E. Hogg, attorney for the
Board of Supervisors of Elections for Howard County, and by Ann Llewellyn McKenzie, Kathryn Scates Levedahl, and Mary Ellen Brooke, attorneys for
Mary Emily Stuart. The appellant's attorneys argued that Stuart and her husband had a mutual agreement that she would maintain her birth name after marriage,
and since she underwent no name change, she merely had to show the Board of Elections that she had consistently and honestly used her birth name, and not
her husband's surname, following marriage. In an opinion filed May 10, 1972, Judge Mayfield concluded that Mary Stuart had the right to be known by any
name that she chose, had amply demonstrated that she had not used her maiden name with any fraudulent intent, and that her registration should be corrected
and restored by the Board of Elections of Howard County.
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