Equal Protection Under Law Essay

The Fourteenth Amendment and Equality Under the Law Essay

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The Fourteenth Amendment and Equality Under the Law

The Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in 1868 as one of the longest amendments to the Constitution with five parts in total. The most significant part is section one. In the very first sentence of section one, ? All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, as citizens of the United States and of the state where in they reside? citizenship was universalized. The Amendment was designed to prohibit state governments from curtailing the rights of former slaves after the Civil War, however it has been used to grant all of the personal liberties and rights conveyed in the Bill of Rights.

The Amendment gives definition to citizenship,…show more content…

The purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to make citizenship of black individual permanent and secure. The amendment did not entirely universalize citizenship because it left out the right to vote, hence the need for the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments granting the right to vote to blacks and then to women, respectively.

The Supreme Court under Justice Miller rejected that the
?amendment?s privileges and immunity clause incorporated the Bill of Rights, holding that the only rights protected were access to Washington D.C., and coastal seaports; the right to protection the high seas; the right to use navigable waters of the United States; the right to assembly and petition; and the privilege of Habeas Corpus.?

It wasn?t until the 1960?s that this amendment really came into play. The amendment is used to protect our civil rights and liberties as Americans. The Supreme court recognized in 1925 with Gitlow v. New York that the Bill of Rights was meant for all people, not just rich, white males. The court held that freedom of speech and of the press were basic personal rights that were protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, ?No?State shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property with out due process of law; nor deny to any person..equal protection of the law.?

In the 1960?s the court then applied that clause to those accused of crimes. They more thoroughly interpreted the Eighth Amendment,

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Natural rights - The rights of all people to dignity and worth; also called human rights.

Affirmative action – Remedial action designed to overcome the effects of discrimination against minorities and women.

Women’s suffrage – The right of women to vote.

Equal protection clause - Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment that forbids any state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. By interpretation, the Fifth Amendment imposes the same limitation on the national government. This clause is the major constitutional restraint on the power of governments to discriminate against persons because of race, national origin, or sex.

Due process clause – Clause in the Fifth Amendment limiting the power of the national government; similar clause in the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the state governments from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

White primary – Democratic party primary in the old “one-party South” that was limited to white people and essentially constituted an election; ruled unconstitutional in Smith v. Allwright (1944).

Racial gerrymandering – The drawing of election districts so as to ensure that members of a certain race are a minority in the district; ruled unconstitutional in Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960).

Poll tax – Tax required to vote; prohibited for national elections by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (1964) and ruled unconstitutional for all elections in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966).

Literacy test – Literacy requirements some states imposed as a condition of voting, generally used to disqualify black voters in the South; now illegal.

Majority-minority district – A congressional district created to include a majority of minority voters; ruled constitutional so long as race is not the main factor in redistricting.

Jim Crow laws – State laws formerly pervasive throughout the South requiring public facilities and accommodations to be segregated by race; ruled unconstitutional.

De jure segregation – Segregation imposed by law.

De facto segregation – Segregation resulting from economic or social conditions or personal choice.

Commerce clause – The clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) that gives Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.

Class action suit – Lawsuit brought by an individual or group of people on behalf of all those similarly situated.

Restrictive covenant – A provision in a deed to real property prohibiting its sale to a person of a particular race or religion. Judicial enforcement of such deeds is unconstitutional.

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Chapter 17: Equal Rights under the Law" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/us-government/vocabulary/chapter-17-equal-rights-under-the-law/>.

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