14th Amendment Explained In Layman's Terms Skip to content
14th Amendment In Layman's Terms

14th Amendment


The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, includes several important provisions. One key provision is the "Equal Protection Clause," which states that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction "the equal protection of the laws." The Equal Protection Clause means that states must treat all people equally under the law and cannot discriminate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or other factors.

Another key provision of the 14th Amendment is the "Due Process Clause," which states that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Due Process Clause means that states must follow fair legal procedures when taking away a person's life, freedom, or property. The 14th Amendment also granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States," including formerly enslaved people.

14th Amendment in Layman's Terms

fourteenth amendment in laymans terms

The 14th Amendment is a rule that says everyone should be treated the same, no matter what they look like or where they come from. Imagine a freshmen classroom threw a pizza party. Everyone was allowed to eat pizza, but one person was excluded because they were Indian or female. The 14th Amendment says it's not okay, and everyone should be treated equally.

The 14th Amendment says that the government can not take away someone's freedom or belongings without a good reason and a fair process. It also says that anyone born in America is a citizen.

Second Class Citizens

The 14th Amendment ensures that all citizens are treated equally under the law and that no one is discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, or other factors. A second-class citizen is not treated the same as other citizens and is not given the same rights and opportunities. Some people were treated as second-class citizens (even though they weren't), but the 14th Amendment helped to ensure that this kind of discrimination would no longer be allowed.

Second-Class Citizens Examples
Historically, several groups of people were often considered second-class citizens in the United States. One such group was African Americans, who were enslaved and faced discrimination and segregation even after slavery was abolished. Another group was Native Americans, who were forcibly removed from their lands and faced discrimination and marginalization. Asian Americans also faced discrimination and were denied citizenship and other rights. Additionally, women were not considered equal to men and were denied the right to vote and other rights. The 14th Amendment helped ensure that these groups, and all citizens, would be treated equally under the law and not be considered second-class citizens.

14th Amendment Debate

The 14th Amendment has been subject to ongoing debate and interpretation, and some groups have opposed its provisions.
Some have argued that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment has been interpreted too broadly by the courts and that it is used to justify government overreach and infringement on individual rights. Others have argued that the Amendment needs to be enforced more effectively and that discrimination and inequality still exist in American society.

There are also individuals who oppose the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, which says that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including those born to non-citizen parents, are automatically citizens of the United States. This is known as birthright citizenship, and some argue that it leads to abuse of the system and that illegal immigrants come to the U.S. specifically to have children who will be U.S. citizens.

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