12AD.2.7 Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution
US Constitution, Amendment XIV
The Fourteenth Amendment, passed as part of the three Reconstruction-era amendments (13, 14, and 15), provides for the first definition of citizenship in the US Constitution. In the wake of the Civil War, the legal definition and application of citizenship dramatically expanded so that freed slaves would all be entitled to citizenship rights. Based on your reading of section 1 of this amendment and the Dred Scott decision, how did citizenship expand? According to the Fourteenth Amendment, who is entitled to citizenship rights? What are the rights that citizens are entitled to according to section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment? Read section 2 closely, especially the phrase “the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age.” What does that mean? According to section 2, how are citizenship rights determined differently based on age and sex?
The Fourteenth Amendment, passed as part of the three Reconstruction-era amendments (13, 14, and 15), provides for the first definition of citizenship in the US Constitution. In the wake of the Civil War, the legal definition and application of citizenship dramatically expanded. The birthright assignment of citizenship was one of the most universal and liberal in the world. The second sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment is equally significant in that it does not simply explain who a citizen is, but it also explains the rights afforded to citizens. Make sure that students understand the legal principles in each clause, and especially focus on the “equal protection” clause, which has occupied civil rights activists and courts since the nineteenth century. As groundbreaking as the Fourteenth Amendment was in expanding citizenship rights, section 2 provides important qualifications of its definition of equal and full citizenship rights. As the country debated whether and how to expand citizenship to former slaves in the late nineteenth century, women’s suffragists lobbied for their inclusion as full citizens. They lost their attempt to be granted full and equal citizenship rights. Section 2 explicitly excluded women as full citizens by allowing states to deny them the right to vote (along with people under the age of 21) and to have representation. It would take the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 for women to be granted full citizenship rights. Ask your students to make connections between both dramatic expansions of citizenship, but also the qualifications that were provided.
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.
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, are 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.