14th Amendment: Citizenship Rights, Equal Protection, Apportionment, Civil War Debt
As part of the National Constitution Center’s 27 Amendments (In 27 Days) project, each day we will look at a constitutional amendment. Through partnerships with leading scholars and universities, government agencies, media outlets, and more, the National Constitution Center will profile one amendment each day throughout the month of February.
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.
In the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the Supreme Court had said that African-Americans were not citizens. This amendment declared that every person born or naturalized in the U.S. was a citizen. The amendment’s “due process” clause has had enormous constitutional importance, since the Supreme Court has used it to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. The amendment also establishes that all citizens are entitled to “equal protection of the laws,” the provision which the Supreme Court cited in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, ruling school segregation unconstitutional. Source: U.S. Senate
1. The Library of Congress Constitution Annotated. Contains a detailed history of the amendment, along with past and recent court cases. Here is a link to the section on the 14th Amendment. Here are explanations from the LOC that are in an online-friendly format from FindLaw:
- Section 1. Rights Guaranteed
- Citizens of the United States
- Privileges and Immunities
- Due Process of Law
- Procedural Due Process: Civil
- Procedural Due Process: Criminal
- Equal Protection of the Laws
- Scope and Application
- Equal Protection: Judging Classifications by Law
- Testing Facially Neutral Classifications Which Impact on Minorities
- Traditional Equal Protection: Economic Regulation and Related Exercises of the Police Powers
- Police Power Regulation
- Other Business and Employment Relations
- Equal Protection and Race
- Capital Punishment
- Other Areas of Discrimination
- Permissible Remedial Utilization of Racial Classifications
- The New Equal Protection
- Classifications Meriting Close Scrutiny
- Fundamental Interests: The Political Process
- The Right to Travel
- Marriage and Familial Relations
- Sexual Orientation
- Poverty and Fundamental Interests: The Intersection of Due Process and Equal Protection
- Section 2. Apportionment of Representation
- Sections 3 and 4. Disqualification and Public Debt
- Section 5. Enforcement
- State Action
- Congressional Definition of Fourteenth Amendment Rights
2. Cornell Legal Information Institute. Includes information from Wex, a free legal dictionary and encyclopedia sponsored and hosted by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School. Wex entries are collaboratively created and edited by legal experts.
3. The Library of Congress has a list of primary documents related to the 14th Amendment at: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/14thamendment.html
Learn more about this project at the Constitution Center’s website at: constitutioncenter.org/experience/programs-initiatives/27-amendments-in-27-days/
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