What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States – including formerly enslaved people – and guaranteed all citizens “equal protection of the laws.” One of three amendments passed during the Reconstruction Era to abolish slavery and establish civil and legal rights for black Americans, it became the basis for many landmark Supreme Court decisions over the years.

In its later sections, the 14th Amendment authorized the federal government to punish states that violated or abridged the rights of their citizens to vote by proportionally reducing the states’ representation in Congress, and it Ordered that anyone who might “engage in rebellion” against the United States. Do not hold civil, military, or elected office (without two-thirds approval of the House and Senate).

What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution

What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution

It also left the national debt intact, but exempted the federal and state governments from paying any debts incurred by the former Confederate states.

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The assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April 1865 left his successor, President Andrew Johnson, to preside over the complex process of admitting the former Confederate states back into the Union after the Civil War and establishing former enslaved people as free and equal citizens. left.

Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee (and former slaveholder), supported emancipation, but differed significantly from the Republican-controlled Congress in his views on how Reconstruction should proceed. Johnson showed relative generosity toward the former Confederate states as they were readmitted to the Union.

But when newly elected Southern state legislatures – dominated primarily by former Confederate leaders – enacted Black Codes, which were repressive laws that strictly controlled the behavior of black citizens and effectively kept them dependent on white planters. , then many northerners became angry.

In creating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Congress was using the authority granted to it to enforce the newly ratified 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, and protected the rights of black Americans.

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Johnson vetoed the bill, and although Congress successfully overturned his veto and made it law in April 1866 – the first time in that Congress overrode a presidential veto of a major bill – even some Republicans thought that another amendment was necessary to provide a solid constitutional basis for it. New legislation.

In late April, Representative Thaddeus Stevens introduced a plan that included several different legislative proposals (civil rights for black people, how to appoint representatives in Congress, punitive measures against the former Confederate States of America, and federal war debts. Rejection of) were combined into one. constitutional amendment. After both the House and Senate voted on the amendment by June 1866, it was presented to the states for ratification.

President Johnson made his opposition to the 14th Amendment clear as it was making its way through the ratification process, but congressional elections in late 1866 gave Republicans a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate.

What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution

Southern states also protested, but Congress was required to ratify the 13th and 14th Amendments as a condition of regaining representation in Congress, and the ongoing presence of the Union Army in the former Confederate states ensured their compliance.

What Is The 14th Amendment In Simple Terms

On July 9, 1868, Louisiana and South Carolina voted to ratify the 14th Amendment, creating the required three-fourths majority.

U.S. citizenship is defined in the opening sentence of section one of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the State wherein they reside. Are.”

It explicitly rejected the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857, in which Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote that a black man, even if born free, could not claim the rights of citizenship under the federal Constitution Is.

The next section of Article One was: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” It greatly expanded the civil and legal rights of all American citizens by protecting them from infringement by the states as well as the federal government.

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The third clause, “No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” expanded the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to apply to the states as well as the federal government. .

Over time, the Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to guarantee a wide range of rights against violation by states, including those in the Bill of Rights (freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, the right to bear arms, etc.). Are included in. Also the right to privacy and other fundamental rights which are not mentioned anywhere else in the Constitution.

Finally, the “Equal Protection Clause” (“nor shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”) was explicitly intended to prevent state governments from discriminating against black Americans, and for years Would play a key role in many of the landmark civil rights cases.

What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution

Section Two of the 14th Amendment repealed the three-fifths clause (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3) of the original Constitution, which included enslaved people as three-fifths of one people, for the purpose of apportioning congressional representation. Was counted in. With the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, it was made clear that all residents, regardless of race, were to be counted as one whole person. This section also guaranteed that all male citizens over the age of 21, regardless of their caste, had the right to vote.

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Southern states continued to deny black men the right to vote during the Jim Crow era, using a collection of state and local laws. Later amendments to the Constitution gave women the right to vote and lowered the legal voting age to 18.

Section Three of the Amendment gave Congress the power to prevent public officials from holding office who had taken the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution if they were “engaged in rebellion or insurrection” against the Constitution. The intent was to prevent the President from allowing former Confederate leaders to gain power within the U.S. government after receiving a presidential pardon. It states that a two-thirds majority vote in Congress is required to allow public officials involved in the rebellion to gain the rights of U.S. citizenship and hold government or military office.

It states that: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or an elector of the President and Vice-President, or hold any civil or military office under the United States of America or any State, which he Has held office as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of the legislature of any State, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, of the United States “shall take an oath to support the Constitution, to insurrection or rebellion against the same, or to give aid or consolation to the enemies thereof.”

Section Four of the 14th Amendment states that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts made for the payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing rebellion or insurrection, shall not be questioned.” will be lifted.” Historians believe that the purpose of this clause was to ensure that the federal government would not repay its debts, as some former Confederate states did.

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It also banned payment of any debt owed to the defunct Confederate States of America and banned any payments to former slaves as compensation for the loss of human “property” (enslaved people).

The fifth and final clause of the 14th Amendment (“Congress shall have power, by appropriate law, to enforce the provisions of this article”) echoes a similar enforcement clause in the 13th Amendment.

By giving Congress the power to pass laws specifically protecting the broad provisions of Section One, the 14th Amendment effectively changed the balance of power between the federal and state governments in the United States.

What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution

Nearly a century later, Congress used this authority to pass landmark civil rights legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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In its early decisions involving the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court often limited the application of its protections to the state and local level.

(1896), the Court ruled that racially segregated public facilities did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, a decision that would help establish the infamous Jim Crow laws throughout the South for decades to come .

But beginning in the 1920s, the Supreme Court increasingly applied the 14th Amendment’s protections at the state and local level. Decision on appeal in 1925 case

, the Court held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment protected against violations of First Amendment rights of free speech by the state as well as the federal government.

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, ruled that segregated public schools did indeed violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

In other landmark decisions, the Supreme Court has cited the 14th Amendment in cases involving contraceptive use (1965s)

By submitting your information, you agree to receive emails from A+E Networks. You can opt out at any time. You must be 16 years of age or older and a resident of the United States. Proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States, proposed June 13, 1866 (National Archives Identifier 1408913)

What Is The 14th Amendment Of The Us Constitution

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The Ratification Of The Fourteenth Amendment

July 9, 1868, fourteenth day

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