This Day in History: Ratification of the 14th Amendment #law #history

On this day in history in 1868, the 14th Amendment was ratified (link opens to a video that auto-plays). While it took some time before its protections were truly in place, it was a major step forward away from the era of slavery. Sadly, as with most of our Constitution, the average American hasn’t read it. So, here it is in full. Please read it. (Note: The original text of the 14th Amendment is slightly outdated. For example, the 19th Amendment prohibited the denial of voting rights to American citizens on account of their sex, and the 26th Amendment modified Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to extend the voting age to include American citizens ages 18-20.)

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. 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.

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Rob Bodine is a Virginia attorney focusing his practice on real estate and intellectual property law. He’s currently Virginia counsel with First Class Title, Inc., a Maryland title insurance and settlement company. Rob is also a licensed title insurance agent in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.



Filed under History, Politics

3 responses to “This Day in History: Ratification of the 14th Amendment #law #history

  1. It has been quite a while since I had read the 14th Amendment, so thanks for this post. Hopefully others will do the same; I think our country could use a little constitutional refresher course!

    • The problem, of course, is that the practice of law is not nearly as exciting as L.A. Law, the Practice, or any other courtroom dramas. A proper education can be mind-numbing to non-attorneys. 🙂

      • Oh yes. And while I love me a TV courtroom drama, they are not even close to the real thing which leads to unrealistic expectations by clients. Don’t ever see that changing though!

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