Every citizen born and raised in the United States was deemed independent and ‘free’ when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 to claim independence and separation from Great Britain. Ever since then, every citizen has been given freedom under the law. However, for most states and minorities especially, this practice was not observed.
This right wasn’t extended to African Americans, thus the birth of segregation and racism was widespread during that era. Blacks were considered inferior and were treated and hired as slaves, they were tortured and often murdered, they were victims of constant oppression and hatred by white supremacists.
When African Americans decided it was enough, it was the start of the American Civil War in 1861. This four year long war was fought between the Northern states and the Southern states- The Union vs Confederate States of America. The North eventually won the war and became even richer, and the Southern states became poorer.
13th Amendment- 1865
Right after the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery. States like Kentucky and Delaware were the last ones to oblige, but thanks to the amendment, all states legally abolished slaver in 1865- except given as a punishment to an unlawful crime.
14th Amendment- 1868
Shortly after the 13th amendment was into effect, the 14th amendment to the Constitution was adopted which addressed more complicated issues like citizen rights and equal protection under the law- in response to the former slaves during the Civil War.
Clauses in the 14th Amendment
Clauses in the 14th amendment are clearly stated as:
‘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.’
Clause 1: Citizenship Clause
If a person is born in the United States of America, they must be granted the right to citizenship.
Clause 2: Due Process Clause
A person should NOT be denied life, liberty or property except for the due process of the law.
Clause 3: Privileges or Immunities Clause
This clause protects the citizenship of its people from interference by other states.
Clause 4: Equal Protection Clause
The equal protection of the law definition is that the law now gives equal protection to all its citizens. More inclined towards the protection of black people, this clause states that all citizens of the country, regardless of their race shall be given equal protection under law.
Equal Protection Clause
The Equal Protection Clause is one of the major clauses addressed in the last section of the 14th amendment, which clearly talks about issues like discrimination; under the constitution, no citizen shall be denied their fundamental right based on their race, sex, gender or religion.
The equal protection clause was developed keeping in mind the racial discrimination that is faced by African Americans in the country. Under the black codes of the law, blacks could not sue, claim, bring evidence or bear witness in cases, and were often punished more severely than while people.
This clause became a breather for the coloured people; they were now at the liberty to enjoy same citizenship rights, equal protection under the law, same privileges and opportunities as their white fellows. After years of oppression and torture because of the colour of their skin, the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment gave them a little hope toward their survival in the country.
Equal Protection Of Law Examples
Ever since the 14th amendment, the clauses apply to all citizens and courts including the federal court.
Plessy v Ferguson (1896)
In 1980 in Louisiana, railroad transport was absolutely segregated, blacks and whites were NOT allowed to sit together. In 1892. Homer Plessy, a black male boarded the white section of the train, and when asked to vacate his seat for a white person, he refused. He was then arrested and the case was brought to the Supreme Court. Plessy’s lawyers claimed that he was being denied his right of equal protection under the 14th amendment, and soon the judge ruled in favour of Plessy that Louisiana also has to oblige the rules in the amendment clauses.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
In 1954, the decision in Plessy v Ferguson was overruled with the 1954 Supreme Court choice in Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, which rotated around the issue of segregation of schools for white and black students. A consistent choice was passed on by the Supreme Court judges, expressing that different instructive offices for white and blacks is inconsistent and disregards the Equal Protection provision of the 14th Amendment. This case was an enormous shelter to the country’s push to end racial segregation inside the United States.
Loving v. Virginia (1967)
By 1967, 16 states had still not canceled laws that denied interracial marriages. Mildred and Richard Loving lived in Virginia, fell in love with each other and wanted to get married. Under Virginia’s laws, Richard, a white man could not marry Mildred, a black woman. The two ventured out to Washington D.C. where they could be married, yet they were captured in Virginia under a state law that restricted between racial marriage. Since their offense was a criminal conviction, subsequent to being seen as blameworthy, they were given a jail sentence of one year.
The judge suspended the sentence for a long time relying on the prerequisite that the couple left Virginia. On Appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia decided that the state had an enthusiasm for saving the racial respectability of its constituents and that on the grounds that the discipline applied similarly to the two races, the resolution didn’t abuse the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth Amendment.
The United States Supreme Court in a consistent choice turned around the Virginia Court’s decision and held that the Equal Protection Clause required an exacting investigation to apply to all race-based orders. Moreover, the Court presumed that the law was established in harmful racial segregation, making it difficult to fulfill a convincing government intrigue. The Loving choice actually remains as an achievement in the Civil Rights Movement.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)
Allan Bakke, a white man, had been denied admittance to the University of California Medical School at Davis on two separate events. The clinical school put in a safe spot 16 spots for minority up-and-comers trying to address uncalled for minority rejection from clinical school. Bakke challenged that his avoidance from the Medical School was completely the consequence of his race.
The Supreme Court administered in a seriously cracked majority that the college’s utilization of exacting racial quantities was unlawful and requested that the clinical school concede Bakke, however it likewise said that race could be utilized as one of a few components in the affirmations cycle. Lewis F. Powell, Jr. cast the choosing vote requesting the clinical school to concede Bakke. Notwithstanding, as he would see it, Powell said that the unbending utilization of racial quantities abused the equal protection of law of the 14th Amendment.
The equal protection clause in the 14th amendment ensures the equal treatment of all its citizens regardless of their race or religion, and according to the Constitution, no person shall be denied this right.
The struggle for equality started as early as time, where blacks have been victims of abuse and torture while trying to rise up all the more. The civil war broke out between the North and the South, and to avoid such further wars, inclusion of all minorities and their rights was very important in the Constitution. Even though legally, blacks and whites have the same rights and privileges, there is still no equality and a lot of racism that seeps into the deepest roots of today’s society.
Blacks still have to push through and make their way, while whites keep dominating public spaces and leadership roles. The scenario has been fairly improved in the last many decades, but there is still a long way to go. A lot of marches, protests and movements will one day create a world where there is no difference between humans based on their race, where every society accepts every person.