John A. Bingham of Ohio , Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan , Rep. Henry Deming of Connecticut , Sen.
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Benjamin G. Brown of Missouri , and Rep. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania. The Congressional Joint Resolution proposing the amendment was submitted to the states for ratification on June 16, On July 28, , having been ratified by the requisite number of states, it entered into force. However, its attempt to guarantee civil rights was circumvented for many decades by the post-Reconstruction-era black codes , Jim Crow laws , and the U.
Ferguson Fourteenth Amendment. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Read More on This Topic. After the American Civil War, three new constitutional amendments were adopted: the Thirteenth , which abolished slavery; the Fourteenth…. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Board of Education regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore regarding the presidential election , and Obergefell v. Hodges regarding same-sex marriage.
The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, including those acting on behalf of such an official.
History of Law: The Fourteenth Amendment
The Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship, nullifying the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford , which had held that Americans descended from African slaves could not be citizens of the United States. The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without a fair procedure. The Supreme Court has ruled this clause makes most of the Bill of Rights as applicable to the states as it is to the federal government, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural requirements that state laws must satisfy.
The Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people, including all non-citizens, within its jurisdiction. This clause has been the basis for many decisions rejecting irrational or unnecessary discrimination against people belonging to various groups. The second, third, and fourth sections of the amendment are seldom litigated. However, the second section's reference to "rebellion, or other crime" has been invoked as a constitutional ground for felony disenfranchisement. The fourth section was held, in Perry v.
United States , to prohibit a current Congress from abrogating a contract of debt incurred by a prior Congress. The fifth section gives Congress the power to enforce the amendment's provisions by "appropriate legislation"; however, under City of Boerne v.
Flores , this power may not be used to contradict a Supreme Court decision interpreting the amendment. 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.
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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 final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of black former slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment , the latter of which had formally abolished slavery. Following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by Congress, however, Republicans grew concerned over the increase it would create in the congressional representation of the Democratic -dominated Southern States.
Because the full population of freed slaves would now be counted for determining congressional representation, rather than the three-fifths previously mandated by the Three-Fifths Compromise , the Southern States would dramatically increase their power in the population-based House of Representatives , regardless of whether the former slaves were allowed to vote. In , Congress passed what would become the Civil Rights Act of , guaranteeing citizenship without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude. The bill also guaranteed equal benefits and access to the law, a direct assault on the Black Codes passed by many post-war states.
The Black Codes attempted to return ex-slaves to something like their former condition by, among other things, restricting their movement, forcing them to enter into year-long labor contracts, prohibiting them from owning firearms, and preventing them from suing or testifying in court. Although strongly urged by moderates in Congress to sign the bill, President Andrew Johnson vetoed it on March 27, In his veto message, he objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when 11 out of 36 states were unrepresented in the Congress, and that it discriminated in favor of African-Americans and against whites.
Over 70 proposals for an amendment were drafted. Bingham of Ohio, which would enable Congress to safeguard "equal protection of life, liberty, and property" of all citizens; this proposal failed to pass the House. The resolution was debated and several amendments to it were proposed. Amendments to Sections 2, 3, and 4 were adopted on June 8, , and the modified resolution passed by a 33 to 11 vote 5 absent, not voting. The House agreed to the Senate amendments on June 13 by a —36 vote 10 not voting.
A concurrent resolution requesting the President to transmit the proposal to the executives of the several states was passed by both houses of Congress on June The Radical Republicans were satisfied that they had secured civil rights for blacks, but were disappointed that the amendment would not also secure political rights for blacks; in particular, the right to vote. On June 16, , Secretary of State William Seward transmitted the Fourteenth Amendment to the governors of the several states for its ratification.
State legislatures in every formerly Confederate state, with the exception of Tennessee, refused to ratify it. This refusal led to the passage of the Reconstruction Acts.
Ignoring the existing state governments, military government was imposed until new civil governments were established and the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. The first twenty-eight states to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment were: . Rescission by Oregon did not occur until later.
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These rescissions caused significant controversy. However, ratification by other states continued during the course of the debate:. Seward certified that if withdrawals of ratification by New Jersey and Ohio were ineffective, then the amendment had become part of the Constitution on July 9, , with ratification by South Carolina. On July 27, Secretary Seward received the formal ratification from Georgia.
The inclusion of Ohio and New Jersey has led some to question the validity of rescission of a ratification.
The inclusion of Alabama and Georgia has called that conclusion into question. While there have been Supreme Court cases dealing with ratification issues, this particular question has never been adjudicated. The Fourteenth Amendment was subsequently ratified: . Section 1 of the amendment formally defines United States citizenship and also protects various civil rights from being abridged or denied by any state or state actor. Abridgment or denial of those civil rights by private persons is not addressed by this amendment; the Supreme Court held in the Civil Rights Cases  that the amendment was limited to "state action" and, therefore, did not authorize the Congress to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals or organizations though Congress can sometimes reach such discrimination via other parts of the Constitution.
Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley commented in the Civil Rights Cases that "individual invasion of individual rights is not the subject-matter of the [Fourteenth] Amendment. It has a deeper and broader scope.
It nullifies and makes void all state legislation, and state action of every kind, which impairs the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, or which injures them in life, liberty or property without due process of law, or which denies to any of them the equal protection of the laws.
The Radical Republicans who advanced the Thirteenth Amendment hoped to ensure broad civil and human rights for the newly freed people—but its scope was disputed before it even went into effect. The Joint Committee on Reconstruction found that only a Constitutional amendment could protect black people's rights and welfare within those states. Section 1 has been the most frequently litigated part of the amendment,  and this amendment in turn has been the most frequently litigated part of the Constitution. The Citizenship Clause overruled the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision that black people were not citizens and could not become citizens, nor enjoy the benefits of citizenship.
There are varying interpretations of the original intent of Congress and of the ratifying states, based on statements made during the congressional debate over the amendment, as well as the customs and understandings prevalent at that time. Historian Eric Foner , who has explored the question of U.
The Fourteenth Amendment and The African American Struggle for Civil Rights
Many things claimed as uniquely American—a devotion to individual freedom, for example, or social opportunity—exist in other countries. But birthright citizenship does make the United States along with Canada unique in the developed world. During the original congressional debate over the amendment Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan—the author of the Citizenship Clause  —described the clause as having the same content, despite different wording, as the earlier Civil Rights Act of , namely, that it excludes Native Americans who maintain their tribal ties and "persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers".
LaFantasie of Western Kentucky University , "A good number of his fellow senators supported his view of the citizenship clause. Senator James Rood Doolittle of Wisconsin asserted that all Native Americans were subject to United States jurisdiction, so that the phrase "Indians not taxed" would be preferable,  but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lyman Trumbull and Howard disputed this, arguing that the federal government did not have full jurisdiction over Native American tribes, which govern themselves and make treaties with the United States.
Wilkins ,  the clause's meaning was tested regarding whether birth in the United States automatically extended national citizenship. The Supreme Court held that Native Americans who voluntarily quit their tribes did not automatically gain national citizenship.
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