On July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified for ratification. The 14th Amendment guarantees the rights and privileges of citizenship to all persons born or naturalized as U.S. citizens. The 14th Amendment (along with the 13th and 15th Amendments) was one of the “Reconstruction amendments” passed in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. These amendments abolished slavery and established voting and citizenship rights primarily for African-American men. These rights were later extended to women and other ethnic groups.
 
The 14th Amendment has four sections. The first section has four clauses: the citizenship clause, the privileges and immunities clause, the due process clause, and the equal protection clause. These clauses limit states’ authority in determining the rights of U.S. citizens.
 
The clauses of the 14th Amendment—especially the equal protection clause—are among the most litigated and controversial in U.S. history. Plyer v. Doe is an interpretation of the citizenship clause. It prevents states from denying public-school funding to undocumented immigrants. Roe v. Wade is an interpretation of the due process clause. It allows a woman to have an abortion under certain circumstances. Brown v. Board of Education is an interpretation of the equal protection clause. It prohibits public schools from segregating students and facilities based on race.

14th amendment
Noun

update to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing all citizens equal protection and due process under the law.

abolish
Verb

to wipe out or get rid of.

abortion
Noun

surgical removal of an embryo or fetus to end a pregnancy.

amendment
Noun

change made to a law or set of laws.

authority
Noun

person or organization responsible for making decisions.

circumstance
Noun

condition or situation.

citizen
Noun

member of a country, state, or town who shares responsibilities for the area and benefits from being a member.

Civil War
Noun

(1860-1865) American conflict between the Union (north) and Confederacy (south).

clause
Noun

one part of a contract, treaty, or other agreement.

constitution
Noun

system of ideas and general laws that guide a nation, state, or other organization.

controversial
Noun

questionable or leading to argument.

deny
Verb

to refuse or not allow

due process
Noun
administration of justice, according to which no citizen may be denied his or her legal rights.
establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

ethnic group
Adjective

people sharing genetic characteristics, culture, language, religion or history.

extend
Verb

to enlarge or continue.

funding
Noun

money or finances.

guarantee
Verb

to promise or confirm.

interpretation
Noun

way of understanding an event or set of facts.

litigate
Verb

to bring and proceed with a lawsuit.

naturalize
Verb

to officially confer the rights and privileges of a citizen on a person not born a citizen of a nation.

primarily
Adverb

first or most important.

privilege
Noun

benefit or special right.

race
Noun

arbitrary grouping of people based on genetics and physical characteristics.

Reconstruction
Noun

(1865-1877) period during which the states formerly belonging to the Confederate States of America were transformed and integrated back into the United States following the Civil War.

right
Noun

specific freedom or opportunity granted to an individual or organization based on the law.

segregate
Verb

to separate or set apart.

slavery
Noun

process and condition of owning another human being or being owned by another human being.

undocumented immigrant
Noun

person who has migrated to a nation without following the immigration laws of that nation.

More Dates in History

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