Kiki asked in Politics & GovernmentGovernment · 1 decade ago

What is the meaning, clause by clause, of the 14th Amendment?

I'm trying to decide if, according to this amendment, gay marriage can be considered a constitutional issue. I'd like an objective definition of the implications... legal interpretation, not moral.

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

"nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

By this clause, it would seem that Prop 8 was constitutional, because there was a "due process of law", correct? Or does this refer only to trials, not elections?

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States"

I feel that I am missing something here. Does that just mean that states cannot take away anyone's rights? Because if it does, it seems that all states have broken this rule in some way. And it seems completely at odds with the other statement, that I believe says they CAN take away rights... as long as there was a due process of law.

"nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"

This also seems to say that everyone will be treated equally within the law. Am I right?

I don't believe that 2, 3, or 4 have any bearing on this issue...

"5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

This means, I believe, that it is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that the other clauses are enforced.

So, based on these things... can I make the argument that denying homosexual couples the right of civil union is unconstitutional?

Keep in mind... I'm not asking if you think it IS or ISN'T constitutional - I am asking if the argument can be MADE that it is unconstitutional.

Thank you.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The Supreme Court of the United States has already said that getting married is a constitutionally protected right. They said so in the context of "deadbeat dads" having the right to get married, and in the case of convicts in prison getting married. See the Court's ruling in Zablocki v. Redhail, 1978, and Turner v. Safley, 1986.

    You can make any kind of argument against any kind of state or local laws when you are talking about the 14th Amendment. Two of those clauses are SO vague that they can mean anything at all you imagination takes you. The Supreme Court has even struck down minimum wage laws before.

  • 4 years ago

    The 14th Amendment simply specifies that a person born in the US is considered a citizen. The purpose of this law was to insure that slaves born in the US during slavery would be considered citizens and along with the other amendments they would have equal protection under the law. It does not modify Article 2.

  • 1 decade ago

    The answer is no. The constitution was written to define specific powers given to the federal government by the people. All other powers are left to state government and the people. You must read and understand the whole Constitution, not just pieces of it. The problem with your argument is that you are inferring a right not specifically defined in the Constitution, thus falling to the state. But, who am I? Under the first Amendment you have a right to Redress of Grievance.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I've read patently ludicrous posts here saying the judges have to bow to the will of the people, and this is of course wrong - America has never been about mob rule, and the purpose of the Constitution is to prevent it.

    The Constitution always takes precedence - it is up to the Supreme Court to decide if the law is legally enforcable - period.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, you can make the case that banning civil unions is unconstitutional.

    And I can make the argument that banning gay marrage is unconstitutional.

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