The Creation and Destruction of the Fourteenth Amendment During the Long Civil War

Author:Orville Vernon Burton
Position:Acknowledgements: Much of this article comes from various drafts of a co-authored book with Armand Derfner on 'race and the supreme court' which will be published by Harvard University Press in 2020. I owe an extreme debt of gratitude to Armand Derfner for any ideas and lots of research and explanation of cases and case law used in this article...
Pages:189-239
 
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The Creation and Destruction of the Fourteenth
Amendment During the Long Civil War
Orville Vernon Burton*
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction .................................................................................. 190!
I. The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the
“New Birth of Freedom” ............................................................. 192!
A. Lincoln’s Beliefs Before the War .......................................... 193!
B. Heading into Reconstruction ................................................. 195!
II. The Three Reconstruction Amendments ...................................... 196!
A. The Thirteenth Amendment .................................................. 197!
B. The South’s Response ............................................................ 200!
C. The Fourteenth Amendment ................................................. 203!
1. African-American Citizenship: Escaping the
Dred Scott Decision ........................................................ 204!
2. “All Persons Born . . . in the United States”:
Birthright Citizenship ..................................................... 206!
3. “Illegal Immigrants” ........................................................ 208!
4. Voting Rights .................................................................. 209!
5. Sections Three, Four and Five of the
Fourteenth Amendment ................................................... 210!
6. Ratification ...................................................................... 211!
7. The Reconstruction Act ................................................... 212!
D. The Fifteenth Amendment ..................................................... 214!
III. Resistance to African-American Progress .................................... 216!
A. Combatting the Ku Klux Klan ............................................... 217!
B. United States v. Hall .............................................................. 220!
Copyright 2018, by ORVILLE VERNON BURTON.
* Acknowledgements: Much of this article comes from various drafts of a
co-authored book with Armand Derfner on “race and the supreme court” which
will be published by Harvard University Pr ess in 2020. I o we an extreme debt of
gratitude to Armand Derfner for any ideas and lots of research and explanation of
cases and case law used in this article. I would also like to thank Kelcey Eldridge
who was my research assistant, and the astute reviewers of the Louisiana Law
Review.
190 LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 79
IV. The Slaughter-House Cases ......................................................... 221!
V. United States v. Cruikshank ......................................................... 225!
VI. United States v. Reese .................................................................. 229!
VII. All-White Juries ........................................................................... 232!
VIII. The State Action Doctrine ............................................................ 234!
IX. The Civil Rights Cases ................................................................. 235!
Conclusion .................................................................................... 237!
INTRODUCTION
The Fourteenth Amendment, the linchpin of the current
constitutional system,”1 is vital to the integrity of the Constitution.
Particularly in the 1860s and 1870s, and again in the 20th century, the
Amendment has had the greatest influence on the way American citizens
live their lives, and it is cited more often in modern litigation than any
other amendment.2 The Fourteenth Amendment overturned Chief Justice
Roger Tawney’s notorious 1857 decision, Scott v. Sanford.3 In 1886, the
Supreme Court interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to rule that
corporations were persons in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific
1. Garrett Ep ps, The Struggle Over the Meaning of the 14th Amendment
Continues, ATLANTIC (July 10, 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive
/2018/07/the-struggle-over-the-meaning-of-the-14th-amendment-continues/564722/
[https://perma.cc/4KCA-KNY3].
2. Id. On the importance of the Fourteenth Amend ment, see generally
JACOBUS TENBROEK, EQUAL UNDER THE LAW (Collier Bo oks 1965) (1951);
DAVID E. KYVIG, EXPLICIT AND AUTHENTIC ACTS: AMENDING THE U.S.
CONSTITUTION 17761995 15556, 16477, 18386 (Univ. Press of Kan. 1996);
GERARD N. MAGLIOCCA, AMERICAN FOUNDING SON: JOHN BINGHAM AND THE
INVENTION OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT 2 (N.Y. Univ. Press 2013);
MICHAEL KENT CURTIS, NO STATE SHALL ABRIDGE: THE FOURTEENTH
AMENDMENT AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS (Duke Univ. Press 1986); GARRETT EPPS,
DEMOCRACY REBORN: THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT AND THE FIGHT FOR
EQUAL RIGHTS IN POST-CIVIL WAR AMERICA (Henry Holt & Co. 2006); MICHAE L
A. ROSS, JUSTICE OF SHATTERED DREAMS: SAMUEL FREEMAN MILLER AND THE
SUPREME COURT DURING THE CIVIL WAR ERA (LSU Press 2003).
3. Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) .
2018] THE CREATION AND DESTRUCTION 191
Railroad.4 In 1954, the courts used the Fourteenth Amendment in Brown
v. The Board of Education of Topeka to overturn the 1896 decision Plessy
v. Ferguson, which legalized segregation.5 In 1962, the Fourteenth
Amendment was the basis of the Baker v. Carr Supreme Court ruling that
legislative bodies must consist of one man, one vote.6 The Court used the
Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process and equal protection
in 1963 to desegregate Clemson University.7 In 1966, the courts used the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to overturn the
male-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute.8 In 1971, the
Court held that a law discriminating against women violated the
Fourteenth Amendment and overturned the 1873 Bradwell v. Illinois
decision, which upheld Illinois’s refusal to allow women to become
lawyers.9 In 1973, the landmark Roe v. Wade case was based on the
Fourteenth Amendment.10 Finally, in 2000, the Supreme Court decided the
presidential election in Bush v. Gore on the basis of the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.11
How, and why, did the Fourteenth Amendment become this
extraordinarily wide-ranging in its application and its influence in the
United States, when the drafters created the Fourteenth Amendment to
protect the rights of the newly freed enslaved people in the South and to
provide them citizenship rights? This Article investigates the beginning of
the story in the second half of the 19th century, when the Fourteenth
Amendment revolutionized the lives and possibilities of African-
Americans. It goes on to discuss how the Supreme Court undid most of
those gains toward equality and equal rights for black citizens. Revolutions
do go backward, and this story stands as a warning for modern times and
court interpretations.
This year, 2018, is the sesquicentennial of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Congress created, and the states ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment
during Reconstruction to protect a group of formerly enslaved people.
Although courts interpret laws through cases about particular individuals
and not groups of people, the consequences of those individual rulings
4. Santa Clara Cty. v. S. Pac. R.R., 118 U. S. 394 (1886).
5. Brown v. Bd. of Educ. of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954); Plessy v. Ferguson,
163 U.S. 537 (1896).
6. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962).
7. See Gantt v. Clemson Agr. College of S.C., 320 F.2d 611 (4th Cir. 1963).
In addition, the author currently teaches at Clemson University.
8. United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).
9. Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1873).
10. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
11. Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000).

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