Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment

In arriving at such powerful provision, the framers of the Constitution have been through extensive and tedious debate and even resolved various controversies in arriving at Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment has its root from the Dred Scott case where Justice Taney established the citizenship (Rights Guaranteed: Citizens of the United States, Find Law for Legal Professionals).

According to decision, citizenship may be acquired by “white persons born in the United States as descendents of persons, who were at the time of the adoption of the Constitution recognized as citizens in the several States and [who] became also citizens of this new political body,'' the United States of America (Rights Guaranteed: Citizens of the United States, Find Law for Legal Professionals).

In addition, citizenship can also be attained by “those who, having been 'born outside the dominions of the United States, had migrated thereto and been naturalized therein” (Rights Guaranteed: Citizens of the United States, Find Law for Legal Professionals). The blacks were not stated to be citizens of the United States. Following the decision in Dred case, another influential factor that created the provision is the Civil War brought about by military conflict between the Union and Confederacy (Civil War, MSN Encarta).

Meanwhile the Union refers to the United States of America while the Confederacy refers to the states occupying the southern part of America (Civil War, MSN Encarta). The civil war was not only brought about by the armed conflict but was also aggravated by the economic, social, and political difference of the two groups. Besides, the Confederacy adhered to slavery while the Union initiated for its ratification. Eventually, Abraham Lincoln came into the idea of restoring and combining the two groups into one Union (Civil War, MSN Encarta).

The end result was the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 where citizenship is granted to every individual born in the United States, regardless of race, and previous condition of the person (Woods & Woods, 2004). Significantly, the Act was purposely to eliminate slavery in the southern states. Eventually, the provision of Fourteenth Amendment was inculcated in the Constitution. The provision was not easily accepted by the states as it was only ratified after almost two years from the time it was proposed. But military troops were assigned among states to ensure the adaptation of the Act.

On July 9, 1868, the provision was finally ratified (Woods & Woods, 2004). How did Fourteenth Amendment Expanded Civil Rights and Liberties Notably, the extent of application of the provision has been broad as has been perceived by the framers. When the provision was founded, “the framers intended to extend the jurisdiction and protection of federal courts to all rights recognized by the Bill of Rights against actions by the state government” (Roland). In addition, the term “immunity” was used in order to protect the rights bestowed by the Constitution against government abuse or encroachment (Roland).

Through times, the privilege embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment has created several rights among different aspects and groups in the society. The equal protection clause was used to defend the right of the female against discrimination by the male. It was also used to protect the handicapped from employment discrimination. In addition, the provision also struck down laws founded on morality. Significantly, it was also the provision used to shaken the very foundation of family by legalizing gay marriage in some of the states.

Remarkably, the provision was used to eradicate the unfair treatment afforded to people of color. The changes can be best illustrated in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U. S. 537). In this particular case, the Supreme Court constituted the “separate but equal principle” (163 U. S. 537). In this case, the law of Louisiana, which requires railway to provide two coaches for whites and blacks but each must sit only on designated place, was challenged by Plessy (163 U. S. 537). The petitioner seated on the seat designated for the white and was imprisoned for violation of the state law.

The petitioner later asserted that the law was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment particularly on equality clause (163 U. S. 537). In resolving the case, the Supreme Court ruled against Plessy and set up the “separate but equal” doctrine (163 U. S. 537). According to the said principle, there was no violation because everyone, regardless of race, was accommodated. Separating the blacks from whites was merely done to avoid hostile reaction from them. Further, the court stressed that despite separation of coaches, each passenger were given seat which makes them all equal.