In a post from a couple of days ago I reflected on the greater diversity we have in the United States and how our history with racial issues like slavery have brought about a slew of legislation derived from the 14th Amendment in order to ensure the equality and justice for all Americans is a reality not just a byline on a piece of paper. Much of the purpose behind our current laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the American for Disability Act stem from our history with slavery, racist legislation like the Black Codes post-Civil War and the Jim Crow laws.
Today, we are faced with how to manage our values of equality as well as some of the post-Reconstruction issues, including voting rights. I believe the Fourteenth Amendment is the most critical piece of legislation we have when it comes to ensure our values and welcoming the diversity we have in the country.
The Fourteenth Amendment drew on the original concepts of the Constitution and the Bill of rights to guarantee newly freed slaves citizenship- the privileges and immunities of American citizens- due process and equal protection of the law. It is this idea of citizenship that the Supreme Court draws upon to guarantee the right to vote stating that it is a “fundamental right” like that of marriage. This past June, the Supreme Court decision removed special scrutiny of voting laws in nine states that had a history of discriminatory history, which allowed North Carolina and five other states directly affected by the decision to pass restrictive laws requiring additional voter identification. The Fourteenth Amendment is especially important today because as diversity continues to change American society we face some of the old divisions that have prevented full equality to be achieved.
Check out this awesome, and at times really depressing (modern day segregation) map of the United States that plots out every single person and shows the diversity that exists in the country.