1868 July 9

Fourteenth Amendment Ratified


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on this day. It was one of three “Reconstruction Amendments,” along with the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, and the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth became the legal cornerstone of the civil rights and civil liberties revolutions in the 20th Century. The Due Process Clause became the foundation for the Supreme Court incorporating provisions of the Bill of Rights and making them applicable to the states. See the crucial Supreme Court decision in Gitlow v. New York, on June 8, 1925, incorporating the Free Speech and Free Press Clauses of the First Amendment into the Due Process Clause.

The 14th Amendment (excerpt): “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.”

Read Amendments 11–27: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html

Learn more: Michael Perry, We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court (1999)

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