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A Perspective on the Fourteenth Amendment

There has been considerable controversy regarding the Fourteenth Amendment. A brief look into its origin and history reveals, “something is rotten in Denmark.” Although it was “adopted” on July 28, 1868, it was never legally ratified. The following is a summary of each section:

Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the state wherein they reside.” It asserts that no State can make laws to abridge their rights, deprive them of life, liberty, and property or equal protection of the law. At least superficially, this section was intended to give citizenship to former slaves. In essence, it made prohibitions against the States but not against the Federal Government.

Section 2: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons, in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.” It also prohibits the abridgement of male voting rights in federal and State elections unless they were involved in a “rebellion.” This referenced the Southern States who were denied the right of self-government through military invasion.

Section 3: “No person shall be a senator or representative in congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state…[if they] have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same…” This section barred over 150,000 ex-Confederates from holding public office. The corporate/government cartel of the North sought to punish any Southerner who dared to believe the Union is voluntary.

Section 4: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” It also says efforts to “pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States” would be illegal and void.

Section 5: “The Congress shall have power to enforce by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” “This is the enabling clause which allows Congress a free hand in the internal politics of a State…the legal excuse that allows the Federal government to impose upon the Southern people such things as controlling the voting qualifications in the Southern States, busing, reverse discrimination, minority set asides, etc.” (Kennedy)

A detailed critique of this legislation appeared in the September 27, 1957, issue of the U.S. News and World Report. “There is no Fourteenth Amendment” by David Lawrence, dissects the myriad of improprieties surrounding this amendment. Sans the tragic circumstances surrounding the amendment, Lawrence’s analyses would likely qualify as a plot for a situation comedy.

For example, the following non-Southern/Border States failed to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment: New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, Californian, Delaware, and Maryland. “In the South, ten States—Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana—by formal action of their legislatures, rejected it under the normal processes of civil law.” (Lawrence) Although 28 of the 37 States were required for ratification, only 21 actually approved it. Since it failed to pass legally, the Federal Government essentially created “pseudo” or “puppet” State governments under “military governors” to make sure it passed.

The so-called indivisible Union referenced by Lincoln suddenly required Southern States to be readmitted to a Union they supposedly never left. The Fourteenth Amendment had to be agreed to before these States could have political representation (per an 1867 “law”). President Andrew Johnson realized the unconstitutionality of these requirements; however, since Johnson opposed the corporate-welfare loving and financially powerful Radical Republicans, his opinion was relatively useless. His veto of the 1867 law (pushed heavily by the Radical Thaddeus Stevens) was overridden. Furthermore, the legislatures of New Jersey and Ohio let Secretary of State William Seward know they rescinded their ratification and Seward essentially did a “tap dance” around it. In 1868, Oregon’s legislature passed a rescinding resolution based on the failure to legitimately meet the ratification of three-fourths of the States.

As author Andrew C. McLaughlin wrote, “Can a State which is not a State and not recognized as such by Congress, perform the supreme duty of ratifying an amendment to the fundamental law? Or does a State–by congressional thinking–cease to be a State for some purposes but not for others?”

The “passage” of the Fourteenth Amendment is a disgraceful episode in American history. It was never legally passed and never signed by President Johnson. It has been used to further centralize federal power and allow the feds to meddle in State affairs; this “legislation” belongs in the scrap heap of history. Who created this monster? It was the Republican Party – especially the despicable and corrupt Radical Republicans. Is there any wonder why Republicans were so thoroughly despised for generations in the South?

Sources: The South Was Right, by Kennedy & Kennedy; The Land Called Alabama, by M.C. McMillan; RTR Truth Media; and “There is no Fourteenth Amendment,” by David Lawrence, U.S. News and World Report, 9/27/57.


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