The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was officially adopted on July 9, 1868. It was one of the amendments issued during the Reconstruction period, and addressed the various rights and equal protections provided under constitutional laws. It was mainly issued in response to issues remaining after the end of the Civil War.
The fourteenth amendment is one of the more litigated amendments found in the Constitution. It applies mainly to the actions of state and local officials.
What Is Covered in the 14th Amendment?
The 14th amendment covers various topics in its different clauses, including:
- U.S. citizenship (namely, birthright citizenship)
- Privileges and immunities of citizens
- Due process measures (both "substantive and procedural")
- Equal protection under U.S. laws
- Various other topics such as public debt and enforcement of laws
Thus, the 14th amendment outlines what it means to be a U.S. citizen, and what types of protections come along with citizenship. It outlines what state officials can and can’t do when dealing with U.S. citizens for various matters.
What Does "Due Process" Mean?
The 14th Amendment also contains what is called the "due process clause". In particular, this is the most focused-on portion of the amendment. Many landmark Supreme Court cases dealt with the idea of due process (such as Roe v. Wade). Whenever a state or state official seeks to impose a burden upon a citizen or their property, the state is required to provide the person with "due process".
There are two types of due process: Procedural and Substantive. Procedural due process means that the government must provide the person with notice, an opportunity to be subjected to an oral hearing, and the right to a decision in front of a neutral decision-maker. For instance, if the government is seeking to take a portion of a citizen’s land, they must provide procedural due process by providing notice and other measures before taking the land.
Substantive due process pertains to the securing of the various "fundamental rights" listed in the Bill of Rights. Violation of substantive or procedural due rights may prevent the government from imposing the burden upon the citizen.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with 14th Amendment Rights?
As you can see, the 14th Amendment can present some very complex legal issues and concepts. However, the scope of the 14th amendment is also very broad and covers many basic constitutional rights for citizens. If you believe that your constitutional rights have been violated, you may wish to hire a government lawyer for assistance and representation. Your attorney can help you file a lawsuit and can represent you during court proceedings.