An Overview of the 14th Amendment

On June 13th, 1866 the 39th United States Congress proposed the Fourteenth Amendment. Most of the southern state legislatures refused to ratify it, which led to the Reconstruction Acts. The military government was imposed until the new civil government could be established and the amendment was ratified. On July 9th, 1868,  twenty-eight of the thirty-seven states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and was known as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Its first focus was to establish the rights of former slaves. Since then, it includes other groups like, women, children, senior citizens, and the disabled. It is the center of Equality in America.

There are five sections that make up the Fourteenth Amendment. It includes a Citizenship Clause, Due Process Clause, An Equal Protection Clause, and a number of clauses that deal with the Confederacy.

The first section states that any person who is born in the United States is a United States citizen. They should never be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the law. There are also writings to restrict Congress from makings any laws to avoid equal rights or have the Supreme Court rule it unconstitutional, like in the Dred Scott decision. Section one has been maintained in court decisions such as United States vs. Wong Kim Ark and Plessy vs. Ferguson.

The second section states that if any state did not allow a male over twenty-one years of age to vote, then they would decrease their number of seats in the House of Representatives. It also overrode that counted slaves as 3/5 of a person when establishing the number of seats per state in the House.

The third section was primarily provided to keep war leaders from the Confederacy to become a part of the government. It prevents a person from running for election in state or federal office if they have ever been engaged in insurrection, rebellion, or treason.

In the fourth section it says that the United States was not willing to pay for any type of debt for the Confederate states. Whether it was war debts or payment for lost slaves.

In the last section it states that Congress has the right to enforce anything and everything within the Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment changed the American federal system. It went from a state centered federal system to an over whelming national controlled federal system. It allowed the national government to step in and dictate what was previously known as state’s domain.