The 14th Amendment

Rights of the Citizens

The 14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment originally was intended to protect the legal rights of the freed slaves. today it protects the rights of citizenship in general by prohibiting a state from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without "due process of law". In addition , it states that all citizens have the right to equal protection of the law in all states.

On the 146th anniversary of the 14th Amendment, Constitution Daily looks at 10 historic Supreme Court cases about due process and equal protection under the law.

John Marshall Harlan


On July 9, 1868, Louisiana and South Carolina voted to ratify the amendment, after they had rejected it a year earlier. The votes made the 14th Amendment officially part of the Constitution. But in the ensuing years, the Supreme Court was slow to decide how the new (and old) rights guaranteed under the federal constitution applied to the states.

In the early Supreme Court decisions about the 14th Amendment, the Court often ruled in favor of limiting the incorporation of these rights on a state and local level. But starting in the 1920 s, the Court embraced the application of due process and equal protection, despite state laws that conflicted with the 14th Amendment.

Here is a look at 10 famous Court decisions that show the progression of the 14th Amendment from Reconstruction to the era of affirmative action.