January 27, 2011

Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 21

Hatched by Dafydd

This constitutional amendment in particular served as the basis, decades after its adoption, for the "incorporation period" of constitutional jurisprudence... more or less extending the prohibitions against federal infringement on the rights of American citizens to prohibitions against state and local governments doing the same.

It also splits citizenship into two characteristics: First, the previous definition that being born or naturalized in a state makes you a citizen of that state; second, that it also makes you a citizen of the United States itself, which thereby became a unique and dominating entity, eclipsing the states and rewriting the very concept of federalism.

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The Civil Rights Amendments -- citizenship and rights

Amendment 14 - Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868.

1. 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.

2. 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, or 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.

3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 1 of this amendment is vast, sweeping, and breathtakingly radical, in the more general sense of "desiring extreme change of part or all of the social order," rather than the more specific meaning of "very left wing." By extending the duty to protect citizens' life, liberty, and property to the states and mandating equal protection of the laws, the 14th Amendment essentially took what was then a collection of sovereign states and transformed it into a unified federal government; in other words, it transmogrified the (united) States of America into the United States of America.

In the final pages of of Gore Vidal's 1984 novel Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's former secretary, John Hay, finds himself at a diplomatic reception a year and a half after the assassination. Hay is asked an intriguing question by American historian Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, and he gives a startling answer:

"Where," asked Mr. Schuyler, "would you place Mr. Lincoln amongst the presidents of our country?"

"Oh, I would place him first."

"Above Washington?" Mr. Schuyler looked startled.

"Yes," said Hay, who had thought a good deal about the Tycoon's place in history. "Mr. Lincoln had a far greater and more difficult task than Washington's. You see, the Southern states had every Constitutional right to go out of the Union. But Lincoln said no. Lincoln said this Union can never be broken. Now that was a terrible responsibility for one man to take. But he took it, knowing he would be obliged to fight the greatest war in human history, which he did, and which he won. So he not only put the Union back together again, but he made an entirely new country, and all of it in his own image."

"You astonish me," said Mr. Schuyler.

"Mr. Lincoln astonished us all."

"I rather think," said Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler to his daughter, "that we should take a look at this new country, which plainly bears no resemblance to the one I left, in the quiet days of Martin Van Buren."

"Well, come soon," said Hay. "Because who knows what may happen next?"

"I have been writing, lately, about the German first minister." Mr. Schuyler was thoughtful. "In fact, I met him at Biarritz last summer when he came to see the emperor. Curiously enough, he has now done the same thing to Germany that you tell us Mr. Lincoln did to our country. Bismarck has made a single, centralized nation out of all the other German states."

Hay nodded; he, too, had noted the resemblance. "Bismarck would also give the vote to people who have never had it before."

"I think," said Mr. Schuyler to the princess, "we have here a subject -- Lincoln and Bismarck, and new countries for old."

"It will be interesting to see how Herr Bismarck ends his career," said Hay, who was now more than ever convinced that Lincoln, in some mysterious fashion, had willed his own murder as a form of atonement for the great and terrible thing that he had done by giving so bloody and absolute a rebirth to his nation.

By George Washington was American born, but by Abraham Lincoln was it born again, for good or for ill; and the 14th Amendment, enacted three years after Lincoln's assassination, was the midwife of that renaissance.

Would we have survived another seven-score and five years had we not been so monstrously recreated? I suspect the answer is no, America would not be here today. On the whole, I think what Lincoln did, terrible though it was at the time, was prudent, necessary, and good.

All verses in the Lizardian Constitutional Collection:

  1. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 1 (Preamble)
  2. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 2 (Congress; House, part I)
  3. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 3 (House, part II)
  4. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 4 (Senate, part I)
  5. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 5 (Senate, part II)
  6. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 6 (General congressional admin stuff)
  7. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 7 (Legislative process and enumerated powers)
  8. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 8 (Limitations)
  9. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 9 (The prez -- who does he think he is?)
  10. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 10 (What would a president do?)
  11. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 11 (Judiciary)
  12. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 12 (States, part I)
  13. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 13 (States, part 2)
  14. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 14 (Amendment; supreme law of the land)
  15. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 15 (Ratification rules and signers)
  16. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 16 (Amendments: Bill of Rights, Amendments 1-4)
  17. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 17 (Bill of Rights -- Courtroom Amendments 5-8)
  18. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 18 (Bill of Last Rights 9 and 10)
  19. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 19 (Amendments: Suing other states, president vs. vice president)
  20. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 20 (Amendments: Abolition of slavery)
  21. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 21 (Amendments: States prohibited from infringing rights)
  22. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 22 (Amendments: Racial voting rights)
  23. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 23 (Amendments: Wilsonian-Progressivism I)
  24. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 24 (Amendments: Wilsonian-Progressivism II)
  25. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 25 (Amendments: Rooseveltian amendments)
  26. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 26 (Amendments: Camelot amendments)
  27. Let's Read the Constitution Day! - verse 27 (Amendments: Panacea amendments)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 27, 2011, at the time of 12:00 AM

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: mdgiles

Hay makes a point about the South having the Constitutional right to leave the union. which could very well be true. What they didn't have was the right to leave the union in the manner in which they did. To leave the union, they should have submitted the proposal through the amendment process, as this was a change to the Constitutional Union formerly agreed upon. State Conventions could not overrule the Constitution, only call a Constitutional convention. Considering the animosity between the South and the rest of the Union, had they tried to leave in a legal manner, I'm not sure that the rest of the Union wouldn't have let them go.

The above hissed in response by: mdgiles [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 27, 2011 10:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: Captain Ned

If only the Slaughterhouse SCOTUS had seen things the same way ...

The above hissed in response by: Captain Ned [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 27, 2011 4:42 PM

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