Constitutional Law-The Fourteenth Amendment

There are numerous other amendments passed over the years that are significant. Perhaps the most important of those is the Fourteenth Amendment—one of the post-Civil War amendments ratified in 1868. This Amendment contains several clauses, the most important of which is the so-called Due Process Clause, which expressly indicates that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

You may recall that within the Fifth Amendment there is a due process clause. That due process clause, as is true of the first ten amendments, was deemed to be a restriction of federal power and not state power. This meant that the federal government could not deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. That restriction, however, did not apply to the states until the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment. Through the eventual interpretation of the Due Process Clause contained within the Fourteenth Amendment, most of the rights contained within the Bill of Rights were deemed to be no longer simply a restriction on federal power but also on state power. This means that those rights contained within the Bill of Rights apply to citizens not only when dealing with the federal government, but now also when dealing with state and local governments.

The Fourteenth Amendment also contains what is known as the Equal Protection Clause. It states that governmental authority may not be used to deny any person equal protection of the laws. Over time, that equal protection clause was interpreted to preclude governmental authority from denying black citizens the same protection of the laws as were accorded to white citizens.

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