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In a quote by previous governor of Virginia, Henry Wise, he states, “The principle of slavery is a leveling principle; it is friendly to equality. Break down slavery and you would, with the same blow break down the great democratic principle of equality among men.” This shows the mindset of American leaders prior to the Civil War as not being able to imagine a nation without slavery. The leaders of the nation debated on slavery for years. States began to abolish slavery by a state by state basis and after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, seven southern states seceded from the Union. Their reason for this was that they feared Lincoln would take away slavery from all states in the Union. The civil war was fought on the basis that fundamental rights were being taken away by the federal government, so the states had a right to secede. Lincoln looked upon this as an act of rebellion. After the war was won by the northern states, three Reconstruction amendments were passed. These included the 13th 14th and 15th amendments. The 13th amendment was the official abolition of slavery in America. This amendment changed the course of America as it developed new societal structures which we still follow today. African Americans still did not have as many rights as today because of Jim Crow legislation preventing any state from giving certain rights to African Americans until brown v board of ed in the 1950’s.
The fourteenth amendment has 3 major parts to it. They are the due process clause, the equal protection clause and the privileges and immunities clause. The Due process clause gives everybody the right to a fair trial in any legal matter. The equal protection clause allows everyone to be treated the same way under every law. The privileges and immunities clause made sure that every citizen in the United States gets all of the rights listed in the bill of rights. This is shown in the court case Brown V. Board of education of Topeka. This case dealt with the segregation of schools by race. The Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional because of the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause. The fifteenth amendment deals with voting rights. The fifteenth amendment prohibits the disenfranchisement of any person because of “race, color or previous condition of servitude”. The fifteenth amendment also had another very important effect, especially for former slaves. It gave anyone who is born in the United States official United States citizenship.
In the Doctrine of Incorporation, state governments are held to the same standard as the Federal Government in the protection of constitutional Rights. this means if the federal government has to protect one groups rights, the state government has to as well. in the slaughterhouse cases of 1869 a partial monopoly was given to one company to slaughter, raise, and sell animals on a select property. the butchers who didn’t agree with this new law said that they were being denied due process, equal protection, and dental or rights and immunities. they were denied because all of their claims fell short. due process Was followed in the making of the law, they had no right to butcher in the constitution, and they were equally protected in court. due to the case, governing was changed. Some state laws were now above federal laws such as restricting property for a certain use. this in turn set the standard of interpreting the 14th amendment.
American lawyer ted olson once said, “ultimately, the reason we have a constitution, the reason we have separation of powers, the reason we have the 14th amendment is to provide the courts with the opportunity to override the will of the people when the will of the people discriminates against a segment of our society.” This amendment has played a big role in moving society forward over history. One of the first landmark court cases relating was Plessy vs. ferguson, where the supreme court ruled that segregation was acceptable as long as facilities were equal. This allowed segregation from public fountains to education. Nearly 79 years later brown vs board of ed ruled that “separate educational facilities was unequal.” This was one of the first large movements from the 14th amendment. The doctrine incorporation has allowed this movement to come so far by allowing state gov. To have similar restrictions as the federal gov. Due to the due process clause of the 14th amendment.
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