The 14th Amendment: a Discourse on Human Rights

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As a citizen do you feel that your fundamental rights that are stated in the Fourteenth Amendment have been neglected?


Yes. It has been 151 years since the Fourteenth Amendment has been ratified, and the rights to life free of discrimination, the pursuit of happiness in regard to same sex marriage, and education are being neglected by the people in office.


Section one in the 14th amendment states that “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.

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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” (U.S. Const. Art. I. Amend XIV).

Brown V. Board of Education was a consolidation of similar cases that arose in Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C. related to the segregation of public schools on the basis of race, and also on the basis of the law that allowed the segregation of public services. The separate but equal doctrine stated that segregation was legal so long as the services provided to African Americans and Caucasians were equal (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1). (n.d.). Oyez.).The issue in this case was, is the segregation of public education a violation of the equal protection clause in the fourteenth amendment? The Supreme Court’s final decision in the Brown v. Board of Education was made on May 17, 1954. The final opinion that was made by Chief Justice Earl Warren stated that “separate but equal” public services were constitutionally unequal and violate the fourteenth amendment.

According to Caleb Parke a Fox News journalist, Harvard University has been discriminating against Asian-American applicants by setting different SAT standards. William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard University’s Dean of Admissions testified that “ He said Harvard will admit white or unknown students with SAT scores as low as 1310 from states with more sparse populations, but not Asian-American students in the same area with similar scores.” The case also discovered that money and pedigree can also guarantee admissions to Harvard (Civil Action No. 1:14-cv 14176-ADB). It had been 65 years since Brown V. Board of Education, and education is still not equal for all.

In the case of Plessy V. Ferguson Louisiana enacted the Separate Car Act, which established separate railway cars for Caucasians and African Americans. The one-drop rule in Louisiana established Plessy as black, despite his Caucasian heritage. In 1892 Homer Plessy who was seven-eighths Caucasians challenged this act. Plessy sat in the “whites only” car, and when he was asked to vacate the seat, he refused and that lead to his arrest. During Plessy’s trial in the inferior court of Louisiana, his lawyers argued that The Separate Car Act violated the defendant’s 13th and 14th amendment rights. Plessy was convicted in the inferior court, and he spent four years in prison before the supreme court overturned his conviction.

A 7-1 decision in favor of the plaintiff (Ferguson), stated that equal but separate but equal accommodations for Caucasians and African Americans is not a violation of the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause. Justice Henry Brown acknowledged that the fourteenth amendment established equality for the races before the law, and separate treatment didn’t imply inferiority of African Americans. John Harlan opposed that the constitution was color-blind, and all citizens deserve equal access to their civil rights.

Although the world is evolving our rights as citizens have remained stagnant. According to the pacific daily news, transgender bathroom access became national news when North Carolina passed a law that blocked transgenders from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to his or her biological gender. This issue spread like wildfire, and it reminded us citizens that we still struggle with balancing rights as well as the concept of equal protection.

In an article written in the Washington Post, Lauren Sudeall gives us her theory as to why equal protection may not be equal to everyone. She starts off by defining intersectionality. Intersectionality is the acknowledgement that different forms of identity-based discrimination can be combined to give rise to a unique brand of injustice. Violation of equal protection typically start off with identifying the identity category such as race and gender. The categorical quality of equal protection makes it difficult for the courts to distinguish how a case need to be taken care off. By creating a standard for equal protection by using intersectionality may be beneficial to the stakeholders.

September 21,1996 The Defense of Marriage Act enacted by President Bill Clinton. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) banned federal recognition of same sex marriage stating that “A legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” (, 2019). Prior to the legalization of same sex marriage, 37 states had already legalized same-sex marriage, but the remaining 13 states still had a ban on same sex marriage. The 13 remaining states that still held a ban on same sex marriage in 2015 contested that marriage is an institution solely for one man and one woman.

The Supreme Court heard the Obergefell v. Hodges On June 26, 2015. Two issues that were raised in the hearing were: Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? the second issue that was raised was, Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex that was legally licensed and performed in another state? In the opinion that was delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court held that the Due Process Clause assured that marriage was a fundamental liberty that was protected.

It has almost been 5 years since the Supreme Court heard the Obergefell v. Hodges case, and although a lot of people have been advocating for more positivity and social acceptance for marriage on Oct.2, 2018 President Trump halted visas for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats, officials, and employees of the United Nations’ headquarter. In his memo it stated that U.N. workers had until the end of 2018 to get married, if not they would have to leave the country. In response to the new policy that was implemented last year, UN Globe, which advocates for non-discrimination of LGBTQ staff in the United Nations released a statement that said “ an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage.”” A former ambassador of the U.N. also made a statement describing the policy as “needlessly cruel and bigoted” (,2019)


There is still a long road ahead of us regarding equal protection under the law, and having our basic fundamental rights respected and protected . The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution was one of the three Reconstruction Amendments which, along with the 13th and 15th, was primarily intended to establish equal civil rights for everyone in the country. As citizens, the Fourteen Amendment is important the 14th Amendment is important in this regard because it says that states cannot deprive people of their life, liberty or property without due process of law. What the Supreme Court has said is that this means the states have to abide by most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights.

The Fourteenth Amendment is crucial to our civil rights because it is the amendment that says that all people must be treated equally. If all people are to enjoy the “equal protection of the laws” then things like racial segregation are, we would think, unconstitutional. The idea that all people should be treated equally is also a major argument being used by proponents of gay marriage, which is also a civil rights issue.

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The 14th Amendment: A Discourse on Human Rights. (2019, Apr 26). Retrieved from