• The 14th amendment did a lot of things but I think the most important component is that it overturned all the "Black Codes" that the southern states enacted in order to continue discrimination against black citizens-that old 'separate but equal crap'. Oh yeah, and due process is pretty nifty too!
  • The Fourteenth Amendment was originally ratified to protect the freedman from the abrogation of his rights by the Southern states. Looking to protect the African American, the amendment made him a citizen and forced the federal government to be responsible for him. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibited the States from denying or abridging the fundamental rights of every citizen and required them to grant all persons equal protection and due process . The Fourteenth Amendment was also very important much later on, in the 1950s and 1960s. While originally constructed to deal with the rights of freedmen, cases such as Brown vs. Board of Education, turned to a quite similar issue. Its interpretation came to be the legal heart of the civil rights movement of the `60s. The fourteenth amendment was arguably the most important of all. It radically changed the definition of the United States Citizen.
  • It has a few major clauses that do a lot of work, Privileges and Immunities (P&I), substantive due process (SDP), procedural due process (PDP), and equal protection (EP). It also incorporated many (now most) of the bill of rights to apply to the states; they were originally only applied to the federal government. Procedural due process cases have established that the government must afford citizens due process if the citizens are deprived of funamental rights, like property or liberty rights. This often comes up in government benefit cases. For example, if the government terminates your welfare benefits, you are afforded some sort of procedure, Goldberg v. Kelly. The same goes if your liberty is at risk, like in a criminal case or a psyciatric commitment, see Vitek v. Jones. Substantive Due process cases challenge laws of general applicability on the grounds that the government doesn't have a strong enough justificaiton for what its doing. All laws classify people into groups, jaywalkers and non-jaywalkers for example. If these classifications trespass on our fundamental liberties, like our freedom to travel or to raise a family, we look at the laws with strict scrutiny, which means that the government has to have a compelling interest and that the law must be narrowly tailored to achieve its ends. With the rest of legislation, we look at the laws with rational basis scrutiny, and just ask whether the government has a rational reason to classify people as it does. Rational basis has been applied in a few different ways, sometimes giving the doctrine teeth in cases like Muggler v. Kansas or Lochner, and sometimes being deferential like in Nebbia, West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, or Williamson v. Lee Optical. However, the courts have started to read "liberty" interests broadly, finding reason to apply strict scrutiny and knock down laws. That's how Griswold v. Connecticut opened the doors for Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of SE PA v. Casey, which held that a woman's right to an abortion is tied up with her liberty interests and therefore can't be infringed without a compelling interest and a narrowly tailored law. IN the abortion context, Justice O'Connor also marched out an "undue burden" test which says that the state may not place an undue burden in the way of a woman wishing to seek an abortion. That was rolled out in Casey. This was used to knock out spousal notification requirements in Casey, partial birth abortion bans w/o consideration for the health of the mother in Steinberg, but allowing for parental consent laws as long as there is a judicial alternative. Familial relationships also get strict scrutiny, as displayed in Loving v. Virginia (interracial marriage ban struck down), Zablocki v. Redhail (knocking down a law prohibiting deadbeat dads from marrying). Sexuality doesn't get strict scrutiny, however, see Lawrence v. Texas. The right to refuse medical treatment is a fundamental liberty, see Cruzan v. Missouri, but the right to receive assistance in suicide is not, see Washington v. Glucksburg. What is a "fundamental liberty" is often informed by tradition. Equal protection requires that the state treat like people alike. It was enacted (and originally interpreted) to apply to blacks, but has since been applied to many other classifications. Suspect classifications, which includes classifying on the basis of race, alienage, or national origin, receive strict scrutiny, where the court looks for a compelling government interest and narrowly tailored laws. For quasi-suspect classifications, like sex and nonmarital children, the court applies intermediate scrutiny, which requires important justifications and means that are substantially related to ends. Finally, for the rest of the classifications, the court applies rational basis scrutiny, which only requires that the means are reasonably related to the ends. Plessy v. Ferguson allowed for separate but equal rail cars, but that was eventually overturned in Brown v. Board. Lots of other cases struck down racial classifications, see Palmore v. Sidoti, Johnson v. CA, Bolling v. Sharpe. Other cases struck down facially neutral laws which had a disproportionate effect on one race, as long as the court could find intentional discrimination, see Yick Wo v. Hopkins, Griffin, Rogers v. Lodge, Hunter v. Underwood, Green v. Co. Bd, Swann, Bd. of Ed. of OK City. Affirmitive action gets strict scrutiny too, see CA v. Bakke, Greuter, Gratz. Sex gets intermediate scrutiny, aside from cases where there are real differences between the sexes (think pregnancy). See Reed v. Reed, Craig v. Boren, Mississippi Uni. of Women v. Hogan, JEB v. Alabama, US v. VA (VMI), Michael M v. Superior, Rostker v. GOldberg, Caban v. Mohammed, Parham v. Huges, Nguen v. INS (immigration real differences case). For alienage as a classificaiton, look at Grahm v. Richardson, Sugarman v. Dougall, Foley v. Connelle, Ambach v. Norwick, Bernal v. Fainter. Disability gets rational basis, see Cleburne, and sexuality gets rational basis, see Romer v. Evans. That about covers it

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