Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

U.S. Senator from Michigan Jacob M. Howard, author of the Citizenship Clause
Rep. John Bingham of Ohio was the principal author of the Equal Protection Clause
Thurgood Marshall served as chief counsel in the landmark Fourteenth Amendment decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
Senate and House votes on the Fourteenth Amendment
Form of the Letter of Transmittal of the Fourteenth Amendment to the several states for its ratification

Adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.

- Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Brown v. Board of Education

Landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality.

Educational segregation in the US prior to Brown
The members of the U.S. Supreme Court that on May 17, 1954, ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
Chief justice Earl Warren, the author of the Court's unanimous opinion in Brown
Judgment and order of the Supreme Court for the case.
U.S. circuit judges (from left to right) Robert A. Katzmann, Damon J. Keith, and Sonia Sotomayor at a 2004 exhibit on the Fourteenth Amendment, Thurgood Marshall, and Brown v. Board of Education

The court ruled that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal", and therefore laws that impose them violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Roe v. Wade

Landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion.

Rose Fosco, who before 1968 posed as a woman seeking an abortion during sting operations for the Chicago Police Department. As an undercover officer she worked to break up illegal abortion rings.
The judicial replacements
George Frampton, law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun during the 1971–72 term
Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of Roe majority opinion
2021 Women's March, many speakers bemoaned a looming threat to Roe.
March for Life, 2020
Judge Edith Jones
Oral hearing for the abortion decision, November 18, 1974
Burger Court in 1976
1991–1993 Rehnquist Court
The Rehnquist Court in 1998; the members pictured are the ones who decided Stenberg v. Carhart. Justice Ginsburg replaced Justice White.
Judge David Lawson
The Roberts Court in 2010; eight of the nine members pictured are the ones who decided Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. Justice Scalia (front row, second left) died before the oral argument.

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects a pregnant woman's right to an abortion.

Incorporation of the Bill of Rights

Doctrine by which portions of the Bill of Rights have been made applicable to the states.

Constitution of the United States

Gradually, various portions of the Bill of Rights have been held to be applicable to the state and local governments by incorporation through the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 and the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870.

United States Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

On June 5, 1788, Patrick Henry spoke before Virginia's ratification convention in opposition to the Constitution.
George Washington's 1788 letter to the Marquis de Lafayette observed, "the Convention of Massachusetts adopted the Constitution in toto; but recommended a number of specific alterations and quieting explanations." Source: Library of Congress
James Madison, primary author and chief advocate for the Bill of Rights in the First Congress

The door for their application upon state governments was opened in the 1860s, following ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

State actor

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.

In United States constitutional law, a state actor is a person who is acting on behalf of a governmental body, and is therefore subject to limitations imposed on government by the United States Constitution, including the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, which prohibit the federal and state governments from violating certain rights and freedoms.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

United States President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation on civil rights on June 11, 1963
Following the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson to discuss civil rights legislation.
First page of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X at the United States Capitol on March 26, 1964, listening to the Senate debate on the bill. This was the only time the two men ever met; their meeting lasted only one minute.
United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Among the guests behind him is Martin Luther King Jr.
A map showing the each Senator's Vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The record of the roll call vote kept by the House Clerk on final passage of the bill
Engrossing copy of H.R. 7152, which added sex to the categories of persons against whom the bill prohibited discrimination, as passed by the House of Representatives
United States President Lyndon B. Johnson speaks to a television camera at the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964

Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment, and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment.

Dred Scott v. Sandford

Landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in which the Court held that the United States Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for people of African descent, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.

The Missouri Compromise created the slave-holding state Missouri (Mo., yellow) but prohibited slavery in the rest of the former Louisiana Territory (here, marked Missouri Territory 1812, green) north of the 36°30' North parallel.
Dred Scott
Chief justice Roger Taney, the author of the majority opinion in the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision

In 1865, after the Union's victory, the Court's ruling in Dred Scott was superseded by the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, whose first section guaranteed citizenship for "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

Radical Republicans

The Radical Republicans (later also known as "Stalwarts" ) were a faction of American politicians within the Republican Party from the founding of the Republican Party in 1854 (before the American Civil War) until the end of Reconstruction in the Compromise of 1877.

U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens
Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury
Henry Winter Davis, one of the authors of the Wade–Davis Manifesto opposing Lincoln's "ten percent" reconstruction plan
Edwin McMasters Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War, whom Johnson tried to remove from office
U.S. Senator Charles Sumner
"Grant's Last Outrage in Louisiana" art in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of January 23, 1875

After weaker measures in 1866 resulted in violence against former slaves in the rebel states, Radicals pushed the Fourteenth Amendment and statutory protections through Congress.


Formerly enslaved person who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means.

Cinerary urn for the freedman Tiberius Claudius Chryseros and two women, probably his wife and daughter
Former slave with horn historically used to call slaves, Texas, 1939. Photo by Russell Lee.

The Fourteenth Amendment was passed to make clear that Congress had the legal authority to do so.

Bush v. Gore

Decision of the United States Supreme Court on December 12, 2000, that settled a recount dispute in Florida's 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Close-up view of satellite trucks parked by the Florida State Capitol during the 2000 presidential election vote dispute
Florida Supreme Court
Theodore Olson represented Bush
David Boies represented Gore

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is the U.S. Constitutional provision on which the decision in Bush v. Gore was based.