14th Amendments Role In Civil Rights

  • Category: American History
  • Words: 623
  • Grade: 96

The 14th amendment provided the backbone for the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement was able to make major gains because it was able to make an argument for civil rights with the constitution on its side. The amendment insures that everyone will be treated equally. The civil rights movement, and Earl Warren used the fourteenth amendment to make important advancements for civil rights. Once the movement had proved the 14th amendment was being violated, they gained the entire federal governments duty to protect their rights regardless of where they lived, and sparked an old argument over states rights where the federal government was bound to win.
         One of the most notorious lines from the constitution is found in section 1 of the 14th amendment. "Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This line is key to proving whether someone's civil rights are being violated. The word liberty, which means to be free to think, act, or do anything one wants, is what proved in the sixties that blacks were being treated unfairly. For instance with the Woolworth stores that had refused seats for blacks who were buying food, were by definition taking away their liberty to sit and eat at a public restaurant. Hundreds of liberties similar to this one were being taken away from blacks in the south. To fight these violations in civil rights the movement took a greatly valued piece of American literature and turned it into a tool against racism. People had to choose whether they believed in America, or segregation. They made it no longer possible to believe in both; the conflict turned into an issue of federal versus state's rights. Where the federal government had won long ago, and the issue became only a question of how long till it equality would be protected in the south by the federal government.
The struggle between state, and federal government is a large part of American history. Before the constitution was even written states had tried to prevent a strong central government. As evidenced by the civil war they failed, and the federal government prevailed. The resistance to segregation is part of the civil war that took place nearly a century prior to the sixties. The federal government provided the 14th amendment to make sure the rights of every citizen wouldn't be violated. Unfortunately they were violated in the south by state laws known as the "Jim crow laws". The 14th amendment though did provide a critical tool for leaders like King to gain the federal government as an ally. The 14th amendment alone though wasn't enough, Earl Warren the chief justice of the supreme court also utilized the 14th amendment to make critical decisions in favor of civil rights. Warren's court didn't solely focus on blacks, but civil rights in general. Either way without Warrens liberal decisions the civil rights movement could never of made its non violent progress, and without the 14th amendment Earl Warren could never of been able to make his decisions in favor of the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement was able to take a piece of the constitution and justify their demands. They made a situation where southerners were either hypocritical or against the federal government. By gaining the government as an ally the movement had gained the protection, and publicity it needed to make equality in the south happen. This combined with the strong judicial branch headed by Earl Warren, the movement was able to make leaps and bounds in the advancements of civil rights by utilizing the 14th amendment.
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