14th Amendment


US Constitution of 1787




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US Constitution Amendment
Proposal Date
Enacted Date
14th
Defines citizenship, contains the  Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, & post-Civil War issues - Signers: Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax (R-IN) & US Senator Lafayette S. Foster (R-CT)
June 13, 1866
July 9, 1868

14th Amendment

A Reconstruction Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, was passed by Congress on June 13th, 1866 and adopted by the States on July 9, 1868.   The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested by Southern states, which ratified it in order to regain representation in the United States Congress.

The amendment's first section includes several clauses: the Citizenship Clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. The Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which had held that Americans descended from African slaves could not be citizens of the United States. The Privileges or Immunities Clause has been interpreted in such a way that it does very little.  The Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause was the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision that precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation, and for many other decisions rejecting irrational or unnecessary discrimination against people belonging to various groups.

This first  section of the Fourteenth Amendment is one of the most litigated parts of the United States Constitution, forming the foundation for landmark decisions ranging from abortion (Roe v. Wade 1973), to the  2000 presidential election (Bush v. Gore, 2000). It applies to the actions of all state and local officials, but not to those of private parties.

The second, third, and fourth sections of the amendment are seldom, if ever, litigated. The fifth section gives Congress enforcement power. The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local government officials from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without legislative authorization. This clause has also been used by the federal judiciary to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural requirements that state laws must satisfy.

Section 1. 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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.




Exhibited here is an 1866 printing of the 14th Amendment from the Report on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction At the FIRST Session of Thirty-ninth Congress CONTAINS Joint Resolution Proposing 14th Amendment to Constitution. June 13, 1866 House Passed Proposed Fourteenth Amend. Amended By the Senate,  Washington D.C., 1866







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