(RepublicanReport.com) – The 14th Amendment doesn’t get as much attention as some others, like the First or Second, but it probably had far more influence on creating the kind of country we live in today.
The 14th is the second of three Reconstruction Amendments adopted in the five years after the end of the Civil War. The goal of these was to give the same rights to all Americans, and the 14th was the most wide-ranging of the three.
Equal Rights For All
The 14th Amendment has five sections, but the fifth authorizes Congress to pass laws to enforce the other four. The key sections of the amendment state:
- Everyone born or naturalized in the US is a citizen of the US and the state they live in. States can’t make or enforce laws that restrict the rights of US citizens, deprive them of life, liberty, or property without due process or deny anyone in that state the equal protection of the law.
- States are allocated representatives based on their population. If any state restricts the voting rights of any of its citizens, except as a penalty for rebellion or other crimes, those citizens do not count towards its representation.
- Nobody who has taken an oath to the United States, as an officer, member of Congress, or state official, then rebelled against the US, can be elected to Congress or hold any other office unless Congress votes to allow it.
- The validity of authorized US public debt cannot be questioned, but the US is not liable for any debt incurred to pay for rebellion against it or for any claim for the loss or emancipation of former slaves.
The third and fourth sections were obviously written to protect the US from being undermined by former Confederates or sued for compensation by slave owners, but the first and second sections have been interpreted very broadly by the Supreme Court and used to create and enforce many rights.
The 14th Amendment has been used to overrule the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which ruled Black people weren’t US citizens. It grants US citizenship to all children born in the country. The Supreme Court has also interpreted it to enforce Prohibition, uphold Second Amendment rights against state restrictions, and Roe v Wade.
For good or bad, the 14th Amendment has played a huge role in shaping our laws, and no doubt it will keep doing so long into the future.
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