The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one of the most important and most frequently cited amendments in American jurisprudence, and its applicability, as well as its definition, have been shaped by a number of landmark cases. Ratified in 1868, after the conclusion of the Civil
History of the Fourteenth Amendment: The Johnson Administration
The Civil Rights Act became law on April 9, 1866, but other issues remained unsettled. At that point, the proposed constitutional amendment ensuring federal civil rights had been tabled in both chambers of Congress; the proposed constitutional amendment on apportionment of federal representation had received a two-thirds majority in the House, but failed to gain the same in the Senate; resolutions to disfranchise former Confederates and prohibit them from holding public office had been referred to the Joint Committee on Reconstruction; and the proposed constitutional amendment protecting the national debt and rejecting Confederate debt had passed the House with a two-thirds majority, but had not been considered in the Senate.
At a meeting of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction on April 21, 1866, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens introduced a plan for combining the various proposals into one amendment. It comprised a section dealing with each of the four topics for which resolutions had been submitted previously, along with a fifth section to allow Congress to enforce the constitutional amendment with “appropriate legislation.” Section Five was based on the enforcement clause of the Thirteenth Amendment. A week later, after discussion and changes were made, the committee endorsed the proposed Fourteenth Amendment, 12-3, and ordered it reported to Congress. On April 30, it was introduced into the Senate by Senator William Fessenden, chairman of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, and into the House by Congressman Stevens, ranking House member of the committee. The House began debating the Fourteenth Amendment on May 8.
The initial version of Section Three, which disfranchised and prohibited former Confederates from holding public office, proved to be the most controversial in the House, including with mainstream Republicans. Congressman James Blaine feared that if the amendment overrode the President’s pardons, then the federal government would be open to the charge of making promises in bad faith. Congressman John Bingham, author of Section One, worried that opposition to Section Three might torpedo passage of the entire amendment. Congressmen Stevens insisted, however, that Section Three was the most important part of the proposed amendment because it was necessary to keep the Southern state governments in loyal hands during Reconstruction.
Section Four, securing the national debt and prohibiting assumption of Confederate debt, was so generally agreeable that it provoked little comment and only token opposition from Border State congressman complaining about the ban on compensation to former slaveowners.
The House passed the Fourteenth Amendment on May 10 by more than the required two-thirds majority, 128-37, sparking applause in the House galleries as well as on the floor. The five negative Republican votes were congressmen from the Border States of Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia. Although most supporters and opponents agreed that Section One incorporated the substance of the Civil Rights Act into the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment as initially passed by the House did not include a clause defining national citizenship. House participants may have assumed that the citizenship clause in the Civil Rights Act was sufficient to affirm that blacks were citizens.
Debate on the proposed Fourteenth Amendment opened in the Senate on May 23. Because Senator Fessenden was absent due to illness, Senator Jacob Howard represented the Joint Committee on Reconstruction by opening the debate and steering the Fourteenth Amendment through the Senate. On May 29, Howard moved to amend Section One by adding a citizenship clause to read, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside.” In addition, the Senate Republican Caucus decided to strike the disfranchisement clause from Section Three, and Senator Howard presented a substitute with that omission, which was approved by the full Senate, 32-10, on May 31.
Senate opponents unsuccessfully attempted to thwart passage of the Fourteenth Amendment by dividing it once again into separate amendments. On June 8, the Senate passed the Fourteenth Amendment by a two-thirds majority of those present, 33-11 (five senators were absent and one seat was vacant). On June 13, the House approved the Senate’s version of the Fourteenth Amendment (with the citizenship clause and without the disfranchisement clause), 120-32, with all Republican voting in the affirmative. The June 30, 1866 issue of Harper’s Weekly (published June 20) reported Congressman Stevens’s displeasure with the Senate version, which removed the disfranchisement clause. Although accepting it as the best that could be accomplished at that time, he predicted the necessity of the federal government securing voting rights for black men (which later would be embodied in the Fifteenth Amendment).
On June 16, 1866, the proposed Fourteenth Amendment was presented to Secretary of State William Henry Seward, who then submitted it to the states for ratification or rejection. When Congress received notification from President Johnson on June 22 of the secretary’s action, the chief executive made it clear that he had not approved the proposed constitutional amendment. Harper’s Weekly editor Curtis reacted in the July 7 issue (published June 27), expressing regret for the president’s disapproval and disagreeing with Johnson’s contention that the Fourteenth Amendment did not represent public sentiment. The editor explained that presidents are not directly involved in the process of amending the constitution. (Curtis mentioned the exception of Lincoln signing of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. The editor was apparently unaware that in March 1861, a day before leaving office, President James Buchanan had signed the original pro-slavery Thirteenth Amendment, which was subsequently not ratified by the states.
Fourteenth Amendment Breakdown: Section I
The first sentence in Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment defines U.S. citizenship in the following way: “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.” The language and placement of this definition are widely considered to be a direct repudiation of the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision, in which Chief Justice Roger Taney, who was a vehement racist, argued that black individuals living in the United States, even those born free, were not guaranteed the rights of citizenship enshrined in the Constitution. The next clause says: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” This part of the Fourteenth Amendment dramatically expanded civil and legal rights guaranteed to all U.S. citizens, mainly because it says the state governments, as well as the federal government, cannot infringe on the rights of citizens.
The clause which follows, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law,” borrowed from the language of the Fifth Amendment, and guarantees due process rights to all U.S. citizens. The Supreme Court has interpreted this part of the amendment, often referred to as the due process clause, as guaranteeing a wide array of rights against infringement by the states, including those listed in the Bill of Rights as well as the right to privacy and other essential rights not explicitly addressed in the Constitution. The last part of Section I, known commonly as the equal protection clause, says that the states and federal government cannot “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This clause is often regarded to be one of the most important in American jurisprudence, one which has played a key role in many landmark civil rights cases.
Fourteenth Amendment Breakdown: The Remaining Sections
In addition to the aforementioned provisions, the Fourteenth Amendment grants the federal government authority to punish states that violate or abridge their citizens’ right to vote, and punishment prescribed for such violations is a proportional reduction in the states’ congressional representation. There is a clause which says that anyone “engaged in insurrection” against the United States cannot be elected to civil, military or other elected offices unless two-thirds of the House and Senate say otherwise, and there is also a section which upholds the national debt and as well states that the federal and state governments are exempt from paying any debts incurred by the states once belonging to the Confederacy.
The passage of the Fourteenth Amendment shifted the balance of power in the United States: the federal government, which had historically been a weaker entity in American life, now possessed a lot more authority over the states than it once did, and it was this authority which allowed the federal government to enact pieces of landmark civil rights legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 being two of the most paramount.
One reason government is so powerful and we the people weak is the 14th amendment. From its inception it has diminished personal freedom, is the vanguard for Federal domination of private property, and the overpowering destruction of our congressional right for self-government at state and local levels. Using court injunction orders along with operative efforts of withdrawing federal funding, the Federal Government can control and force their dictum unchallenged by Executive Order. In essence, the 14th Amendment enslaved an entire nation to a far-reaching and all-encompassing Federal Government.
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and all inferior courts as well, do not challenge the unconstitutionality of the 14th Amendment because they have been granted overt powers without reserve or restriction. The 14th amendment was organized by Socialists, morphing into the Progressives who gave us the Unconstitutional Federal Reserve in 1913. Both should finally be recognized as null and void, but the 14th amendment inhibits that from happening. Progressives will never relinquish control of both our White House, and media, without a fight.1
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.
In 1876 eight years after the Fourteenth Amendment had been ratified, and following two Supreme Court cases on that Amendment a noted commentator reported: The Rule adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States in interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment makes it inapplicable to the religious liberty or any other right of the citizen as determined by the state of which he is resident.
The Court in the cases of Paul vs. Virginia and of the New Orleans Slaughter-house (16 Wallace, p. 36), laid down the principle. There is nothing in the last three amendments to the Constitution that reaches the question of religion, and nothing anywhere else in this instrument that places the states under the slightest restraint with reference to this subject; and hence it is true, as remarked by Justice Story [one of the Supreme Court’s most noted legal scholars, appointed by President James Madison in his Commentaries on the Constitution (section 1879), that “the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their sense of justice and the state constitutions.”
When one understands the intent of these two Amendments, it is not surprising that no previous Court had ever coupled them as did the 1947 Everson Court. † In fact, in 1970, Justice William Douglas openly acknowledged that by coupling the Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights, the Court had not only usurped state authority over many areas but that it had also created an American revolution that involved the imposition of new and far reaching constitutional restraints on the states.
Nationalization of many civil liberties has been the consequence of the Fourteenth Amendment, reversing the historic position that the foundations of those liberties rested largely in state law and so the revolution occasioned by the Fourteenth Amendment has progressed as Article after Article in the Bill of Rights has been incorporated in it [by the Court] and made applicable to the states. The Everson decision represented a disturbing and unprecedented judicial paradigm shift.1
Tom Lacovara-Stewart has researched the 14th Amendment and evaluated the events leading up to and surrounding it for many years. He believes that the 14th Amendment was:
- fraudulently, unlawfully, illegally proposed by the U.S. Congress rendering it null and void at the outset;
- ratified in the Southern states after the war and after the Southern Representatives were replaced and admitted back in what was purported to be the “Union”, by fraudulent legislatures'(who departed from the lawful process of the rules of their respective houses, some kidnapped and forced to make a false quorum, literally by military force at bayonet point — threat, duress and coercion — rendering it null and void in the second instance;
- had nothing to do with giving freed slaves citizenship status and instead created a new status of citizenship for all Americans (U.S. citizens rather than Citizens of our respective states) which in effect enslaved us all;
- dissolved and replaced constitutional law with the ‘Laws of Commerce and Admiralty’… and
- in a very real sense became a new constitution within the constitution.
“We have researched this ourselves and have been also advised by many other legal and historical researchers (NOT lawyers but some lawyers have agreed) that if the autonomous states declared it’s invalidity (the 14th Amendment) the entire out-of-thin-air economic stranglehold on this nation, along with the current system of Roman, and Talmudic law would collapse. No need for an amendment to repeal the 14th because it is not a lawful part of the Constitution.
In fact, if the missing lawfully ratified 13th Amendment was re-inserted, the one could replace the other. To fully protect the rights of descendants of slaves, each state could declare equal rights of all legal Citizens.
Too simple? Too logical? Have we, too, become addicted to the voluminous laws so crafted by the lawyers that not even elected officials understand them? Are state legislators so brain-washed and controlled by the political hierarchy they wouldn’t even understand this concept? Read the detailed report by Judge Perez and decide for yourself… could this be undone if enough of us worked together with state legislators?”
Judge LH Perez says:
The purported 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is and should be held to be ineffective, invalid, null, void, and unconstitutional for the following reasons:
The Joint Resolution proposing said Amendment was not submitted to or adopted by a Constitutional Congress. Article I, Section 3, and Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
The Joint Resolution was not submitted to the President for his approval. Article I, Section 7.
The proposed 14th Amendment was rejected by more than one-fourth of all the States then in the Union, and it was never ratified by three-fourths of all the States in the Union.
I. The Unconstitutional Congress
The United States Constitution provides:
- Article 1, Section 3. “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State …”
- Article V provides: “No State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
The fact that twenty-three (23) Senators had been unlawfully excluded from the U.S. Senate, in order to secure a two-thirds vote for adoption of the Joint Resolution proposing the 14th Amendment is shown by Resolutions of protest adopted by the following state legislatures:
The New Jersey Legislature by Resolution of March 27, 1868, protested as follows:
The said proposed amendment not having yet received the assent of the three-fourths of the states, which is necessary to make it valid, the natural and constitutional right of this state to withdraw its assent is undeniable ***.
That it being necessary by the constitution that every amendment to the same should be proposed by two-thirds of both houses of congress, the authors of said proposition, for the purpose of securing the assent of the requisite majority, determined to, and did, exclude from the said two houses eighty representatives from eleven states of the Union, upon the pretense that there were no such states in the Union; but, finding that two-thirds of the remainder of the said houses could not be brought to assent to the said proposition, they deliberately formed and carried out the design of mutilating the integrity of the United States Senate, and without any pretext or justification, other than the possession of the power, without the right, and in palpable violation of the Constitution, ejected a member of their own body, representing this state, and thus practically denied to New Jersey its equal suffrage in the Senate, and thereby nominally secured the vote of two-thirds of the said houses. (New Jersey Acts, March 27, 1868)
The Alabama Legislature protested against being deprived of representation in the Senate of the U.S. Congress. (Alabama House Journal, 1866, pp. 210-213)
The Texas Legislature by Resolution on October 15, 1866, protested as follows:
The amendment to the Constitution proposed by this joint resolution as Article XIV is presented to the Legislature of Texas for its action thereon, under Article V of that Constitution. This Article V, providing the mode of making amendments to that instrument, contemplates the participation by all the States through their representatives in Congress, in proposing amendments. As representatives in Congress from nearly one-third of the States were excluded from the Congress proposing the amendments, the constitutional requirement was not complied with; it was violated in letter and in spirit; and the proposing of these amendments to States which were excluded from all participation in their initiation in Congress, is a nullity. (Texas House Journal, 1866, p. 577.)
The Arkansas Legislature, by Resolution on December 17, 1866, protested as follows:
The Constitution authorized two-thirds of both houses of Congress to propose amendments; and, as eleven States were excluded from deliberation and decision upon the one now submitted, the conclusion is inevitable that it is not proposed by legal authority, but in palpable violation of the Constitution. (Arkansas House Journal, 1866, p. 287.)
The Georgia Legislature, by Resolution on November 1866, protested as follows:
Since the reorganization of the State government, Georgia has elected Senators and Representatives. So has every other State. They have been arbitrarily refused admission to their seats, not on the ground that the qualifications of the members elected did not conform to the fourth paragraph, second section, first article of the Constitution, but because their right of representation was denied by a portion of the States having equal but not greater rights than themselves. They have in fact been forcibly excluded; and, inasmuch as all legislative power granted by the States to Congress is defined, and this power of exclusion is not among the powers expressly or by implication, the assemblage, at the capitol, of representatives from a portion of the States, to the exclusion of the representatives of another portion, cannot be a constitutional Congress, when the representation of each State forms an integral part of the whole.
This amendment is tendered to Georgia for ratification, under that power in the Constitution which authorizes two-thirds of the Congress to propose amendments. We have endeavored to establish that Georgia had a right, in the first place, as part of the Congress to act upon the question, “Shall these amendments be proposed?” Every other excluded State had the same right.
The first constitutional privilege has been arbitrarily denied. Had these amendments been submitted to a constitutional Congress, they never would have been proposed to the States. Two-thirds of the whole Congress never would have proposed to eleven States voluntarily to reduce their political power in the Union, and at the same time, disfranchise the larger portion of the intellect, integrity and patriotism of the eleven co-equal States. (Georgia House Journal, November 9, 1866, pp. 66-67)
The Florida Legislature, by Resolution of December 5, 1866, protested as follows:
Let this alteration be made in the organic system and some new and more startling demands may or may not be required by the predominant party previous to allowing the ten States now unlawfully and unconstitutionally deprived of their right of representation to enter the Halls of the National Legislature. Their right of representation is guaranteed by the Constitution of this country and there is no act, not even that of rebellion, can deprive them of its exercise. (Florida House Journal, 1866)
The South Carolina Legislature by Resolution of November 27, 1866 protested as follows:
Eleven of the Southern States, including South Carolina, are deprived of their representation in Congress. Although their Senators and Representatives have been duly elected and have presented themselves for the purpose of taking their seats, their credentials have, in most instances, been laid upon the table without being read, or have been referred to a committee, who have failed to make any report on the subject. In short, Congress has refused to exercise its Constitutional functions, and decide either upon the election, the return, or the qualification of these selected by States and people to represent us. Some of the Senators and Representatives from the Southern States were prepared to take the test oath, but even these have been persistently ignored, and kept out of the seats to which they were entitled under the Constitution and laws. Hence this amendment has not been proposed by “two-thirds of both Houses” of a legally constituted Congress, and is not, Constitutionally or legitimately, before a single Legislature for ratification. (South Carolina House Journal, 1866, pp. 33 and 34)
The North Carolina Legislature protested by Resolution of December 6, 1866 as follows:
The Federal Constitution declares in substance, that Congress shall consist of a House of Representatives, composed of members apportioned among the respective States in the ratio of their population, and of a Senate, composed of two members from each State. And in the Article which concerns Amendments, it is expressly provided that ‘no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.’ The contemplated Amendment was not proposed to the States by a Congress thus constituted. At the time of its adoption, the eleven seceding States were deprived of representation, both in the Senate and House, although they all, except the State of Texas, had Senators and Representatives duly elected and claiming their privileges under the Constitution. In consequence of this, these States had no voice on the important question of proposing the Amendment. Had they been allowed to give their votes, the proposition would doubtless have failed to command the required two-thirds majority.
If the votes of these States are necessary to a valid ratification of the Amendment, they were equally necessary on the question of proposing it to the States; for it would be difficult, in the opinion of the Committee, to show by what process in logic, men of intelligence could arrive at a different conclusion. (North Carolina Senate Journal, 1866-67, pp. 92 and 93.)>
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