The 14th Amendment (Hidden in Plain Sight)

By Attorney Charles I. Brooks

The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1866 and ratified by the states in 1868 as the longest Amendment to the Constitution.  The five (5) portions each specifically address the remedies necessary to remove all vestiges of racial discrimination.  The drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment tried to force the former slave states to enfranchise blacks on the same basis as white by threatening to reduce their representation in Congress if blacks were not allowed to vote.  The most vitriolic debates of the era centered upon birth right citizenship for former slaves and the cascading groups such a ruling would entail.  Senator Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania argued for the inclusion of …” the Negro, the Irishman, the Frenchman, the Scotsman, the Englishman and the Chinaman.” Whereas west coast republicans openly opposed the measure because of opposition to the Chinese immigration and the “pagan race “program.  Less than five (5) years after ratification the Supreme Court begins to distort the meaning of the Amendment in the 1873 Slaughterhouse cases.  The Supreme Court discussed race to accomplish an economic benefit for white, largely confederate plaintiffs.  Despite the history of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the Supreme Court refuses to offer blacks any civil rights protections from open brutality.  The 14th Amendment would not be used to actually support black civil rights until Gaines v. Canada in 1938.  The notion that the 14th Amendment supports any other groups, but slaves and their descendants would cascade into privacy arguments in the 1970.

Prior to 1973 access to abortion was not considered a right in America, and many women were relegated to choose between unwanted pregnancies and dangerous procedures in unauthorized locations.  The landmark Roe v. Wade shifted the tides by legalizing the right to abortion across the country.  The Supreme Court recognized an implicit constitutional right to privacy in the 14th Amendment.  The nation would debate the efficacy and moral implications of the ruling for nearly Fifty (50) years.  The origins of the 14th Amendment are grounded in protecting former slaves from denying … “life liberty or property” without due process of law, or to “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The continued debate about Roe v. Wade seems vibrant and at the forefront of the American body politick on a daily basis.  However, the Supreme Court ruled to limit the remedies passed by Congress to help the descendants of former slaves in 1989. Richmond v. Croson, imposed strict scrutiny upon any racial equity remedy because African Americans and Caucasians “achieved racial equity”. The fundamental underpinnings of the ruling seem to avoid any cognitive understanding of the term equity.  In fact, the original Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, Civil Rights Commission, stated the United States should enact affirmative action to provide opportunities to a class of qualified persons who suffer both actual and historical discrimination.

In conclusion, individuals with veracity of purpose deduce the 14th Amendments should be utilized to remove the remnants of slavery.  Tailored remedies are within the auspices of the original constitutional drafter’s intent.  We should demand the Supreme Court fulfill its duty from over One Hundred Fifty (150) years ago.  The reversal of Richmond v. Croson should be the clarion call of all people who seek the fulfillment of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Charles I. Brooks

Attorney Brooks currently serves as General Counsel for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The aforementioned position encompasses the establishment of dispute resolution centers throughout the world.  SCLC maintains contacts in Haiti, Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, Cuba and South Africa.  The relationships in South Africa led to my private practice representing the Ama Ximba Tribe in Cato Ridge, South Africa. The leader is Nklosi Zibuse “Michael” Mlaba. The Brooks Law Firm, P. C. continues to work with civil rights leaders in Paris, Berlin and South Africa.


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