On This Day

July 28, 1868

After the states ratified the 14th Amendment, it officially became part of the
U.S. Constitution.

Here’s how it continues to shape American civil liberties

On This Day

BACKGROUND

  • After the Civil War, Congress passed three constitutional amendments:
  • 1865: 13th Amendment outlawed slavery.
  • 1866: Congress passed the 14th Amendment, inspired by the question of whether freed slaves were American citizens. States ratified in 1868.
  • 1870: 15th Amendment gave Black men the right to vote.
On This Day

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States …No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens … 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.”

On This Day

WHAT IT MEANS

Citizenship: All persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens.

Equal Protection: State gov’t must apply laws fairly and equally to all people.

Due Process: State gov’t must follow certain procedures before it deprives an individual of a right.

On This Day

Equal Protection Clause: Big Supreme Court Cases

  • 1896: The court allowed segregation, ruling separate facilities for Black people can be “equal.
  • 1954: The court overruled that decision, finding that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” & ending segregation in public schools.
  • 1967 & 2015: The court prohibited states from passing laws outlawing interracial & same-sex marriages.
On This Day

The Due Process Clause:
Big Supreme Court Cases

  • Major legal cases related to the 14th Amendment aren’t limited to race.
  • 1936: The court ruled confessions obtained by torture are not voluntary and, therefore, inadmissible at trial.
  • 1973: The court ruled states cannot deny a woman her fundamental “right to privacy” to obtain an abortion without certain procedural safeguards.
On This Day

Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson said the 14th Amendment provides "the courts with the opportunity to override the will of the people when the will of the people discriminates against a segment of our society." The 14th amendment is the longest & potentially "most complex" in the U.S. Constitution: read why

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Read

Sources

The 14th: A Civil War-era amendment has become a mini Constitution for modern times: CLICK HERE

Today in history: Library of Congress

Here’s an example of some big cases related to the 14th amendment: