Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

No Abridging of Privileges or Immunities

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “… No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States….”  This provision simply states that all citizens of the United States have the right to enjoy the privileges and protections of citizenship.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “It will be observed that this merely repeats what the Constitution had already stated in Article IV, section 2:  `The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.’
                “In both instances the Constitution refers only to the privileges and immunities belonging to a person as a citizen of the United States.  It does not prohibit the states form altering, regulating, or restricting privileges and immunities related to state citizenship.
                “Examples of privileges and immunities on the state level would be such things as working hours, labor laws affecting women and children, size of a jury, voting in city, county, or state election, and so forth."  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 722.)

                Patrick Kelly of The Heritage Foundation explained, “The historical context of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment would have been known to the contemporary members of the amendment’s intended audience and would no doubt have influenced greatly their understanding of its meaning.  Congress drafted the Fourteenth Amendment and sent it to the states for approval in 1866, after the required supermajority of Congress had voted to overturn President Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.  In his veto message, President Johnson had questioned the constitutionality of that act.  Sections 1 and 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment together were obviously intended to provide a solid constitutional base for the act, and Section 1 was intended to embed the essential proscriptions of the act in the Constitution itself, safe form subsequent repeal by mere legislative action.  Congress had drafted the act to overturn the effects of the infamous `Black Codes’ enacted by the reconstituted Southern state governments on 1865 and 1866 under President Johnson’s Reconstruction policies.  Those codes limited in important ways the basic civil rights of the freed slaves to contract, to own property, and to sue….”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 386-387.)            

No comments:

Post a Comment