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14th Amendment Summary

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What Is the 14th Amendment?

The 14th Amendment is one of the most important amendments of the United States Constitution. It contains many clauses that deal with rights of private citizens in relation to state and local governments. Part of the confusion surrounding the amendment has to do with the fact that it contains so many different ideas.

Here is a summary of some of the more commonly cited clauses of the 14th Amendment:

  • Citizenship Clause: This clause focuses on the definition of a U.S. citizen, mainly in relation to birthright citizenship.
  • Privileges or Immunities Clause: This clause prevents the U.S. government from creating any laws that would deny citizens of their privileges or immunities.
  • Due Process: This clause requires the government to provide due process for citizens whenever it seeks to impose a burden on them or their property. This includes both procedural (i.e., providing fair notice, etc.) and substantive (protections found in the Bill of Rights).
  • Equal Protection Clause: This secures the right to be free from discrimination based on sex, nationality, disability, and other characteristics.
  • Various other clauses, including those regarding public debt and enforcement of constitutional laws.

What If My Constitutional Rights Have Been Violated?

A violation of constitutional laws can sometimes affect many people. For instance, if the government plans to implement a construction project that will affect private property, the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause requires the government to provide the affected persons with due process. This includes such acts as providing them notice of the project, as well as the right to a fair hearing before a neutral judge if requested.

Failure to follow these measures can result in consequences such as an invalidation of the proposed project. It could also result in a damages award to the affected persons, if the due process violation has caused losses. This will vary in each case, and may often require extensive litigation to determine the actual penalties.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Assistance with 14th Amendment Legal Issues?

Constitutional rights can often be difficult to deal with. It’s in your best interests to hire a qualified lawyer if you believe that any of your rights have been affected or violated. Your attorney will be able to determine which legal options are available for you, and how to pursue legal action in court. An experienced lawyer in your area can provide you with representation throughout the legal process.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-24-2014 11:21 AM PST

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