Putting It Into Words … Students Tackle the 14th Amendment

 

First Place: The Transformative 14th Amendment
By Zach Weis

No matter someone’s status, they are each granted the same rights and privileges of the United States Constitution. This is because of the transformative 14th Amendment. The reasons that this amendment is so prominent are found mainly in its first clause. Although it assures citizenship, due process, and equal protection, the latter two are the bases for many influential judicial decisions that have shaped our country.

First of all, without the due process that the 14th Amendment guarantees, the government would be allowed to take away fundamental rights without a hearing. These rights include life, liberty and property. Before the government can infringe on any of these rights, an individual must be provided an opportunity to be heard fairly. In the case of Rippo v. Baker, the United States Supreme Court determined that Rippo’s due process rights were violated because the risk that the judge was biased was too great to be constitutionally tolerated.

Most frequently people rely upon the 14th Amendment for equal protection. Ranging from Brown v. Board of Education to Obergefell v. Hodges, citizens have relied upon this clause to secure equal treatment. Through cases such as these, the judicial branch has translated the Constitution to define what is socially acceptable. Clearly, the equal protection clause has shaped our society.

In conclusion, the 14th Amendment has transformed our country because it guarantees due process, citizenship, and equal protection. Without the 14th Amendment, rights could be siphoned, citizenship could be minimized, and equal protection would be a myth.

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Second Place: Transforming American Democracy
By Bella Donovan

Affecting our American citizens for over 140 years, the 14th Amendment was the key to unlocking the shackles holding back civil rights from coast to coast. The importance of this amendment has not faltered from the Civil War to the 21st Century.

Ratified on July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment was drafted during the time of the Civil War. Even though the initial purpose of the amendment was to grant citizenship to all emancipated slaves, it continues to protect diversity and the civil rights of all. Without this cornerstone amendment, the United States would be nothing like it is today. This one key sentence: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States,_” _ensures that as America grows, we will keep the same privileges and rights for everybody. The 14th Amendment also led to the movement for women’s rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The latter gives protection to disabled citizens and ensures the same opportunities for all. The 14th Amendment is relevant today because it allows America to be a “melting pot” of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds; this inspirational amendment makes American people excited and accepting of diversity in their cities, towns and homes.

The 14th Amendment ties the Constitution together by reinforcing the promise of life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness. The 14th Amendment was the catalyst for civil rights across America and continues to be the glue that binds these beliefs together.

 

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Third Place: The 14th Amendment
By Lauren Roecker

For over one and a half centuries, the United States Constitution has upheld the 14th Amendment, which provides equal rights to all citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment confirms that we the people have the same rights and privileges as our neighbors, despite our race or income, and the states cannot create a law stating otherwise. The development of the 14th Amendment made significant impacts on society, including the effort to put race and gender discrimination behind us. This Amendment provides all citizens equal protection from the government and enforces due process under the law.

This Amendment was created out of the 13th Amendment, which provided for the abolishment of slavery. Today, it gives immigrants and natural born citizens the same rights and immunities and has created the American society in which we live today. These are important factors to society because it does not allow catering to the wealthy, privileged citizens or allow unfair treatment to the disadvantaged. Fair treatment for all people has enabled important strides in equal rights to women in the workplace, causes all races to be treated equally under the law and provides expectations of equal legal rights to all.

This Amendment not only upholds due process laws for those accused of a crime, but it also helped our society thrive with the equality it provided for all of the citizens. The United States of America would still be in the fight for the rights of women, people of color and people with low incomes without the 14th Amendment.

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