The importance of the 14th Amendment

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment read thus (emphasis mine):

“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.”

This site ( a good outline of some of the things we talked about in class and that we will talk about. Notice that the first sentence is about overturning the Dred Scott decision (Ask yourself: what was the opinion of the court regarding citizenship of African-Americans in that case?).

What is important to remember is that the 14th Amendment, for the first time, made the protections of the Bill of Rights binding upon the STATES, not just the Federal government, as was the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, and especially those with anti-federalist opinions. The 14th Amendment tells STATES that they have to fulfill the obligations of the Federal Bill of Rights. This is known as the incorporation doctrine.

Make sure you understand what the two clauses– due process and equal protection– mean.

I strongly urge you to go to the link provided above and read the article thoroughly.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by steve on January 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    this was in my mind the best adition to the sconstitution every because passing laws isn’t the hard part but enforcing them in all the states is

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