What is the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States was enacted during Civil War reconstruction. The intent of the amendment was to insure that freed slaves enjoyed the same protections as all other Americans.
The amendment is divided into five sections. The 14th is often cited in litigation and was a centerpiece to arguments in The Slaugherhouse Cases, Lochner v. New York, Brown v. Board of Education, Mapp v. Ohio, Loving v. Virginia, Gore v. Bush, Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges and a few others.
Section one contains the most-oft cited citizenship, due process and equal rights clauses.
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 deals with the make-up of congress. It is important to note that the 14th amendment preceded the 19th (women’s suffrage) so the section applies to men and women equally.
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 prevents an office-holder who aids the enemy from holding office. A 2/3rds vote of the Senate may override.
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 re-affirms the faith of the U.S. government as to repayment of its debt. The section also prohibits congress from taking on debt to aid rebellion against the government and makes losses due to slave emancipation unrecoverable from the government.
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 is a typical enforcement clause giving Congress the power to enforce the amendment.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article