14th Amendment

   The 14th Amendment to the Constitution had a very simple purpose – to protect freed slaves from southern “Black Code” laws which denied them the basic rights of white citizens.  This section of the amendment reads:

   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.”

   The word “immunities” was used instead of “rights” because the word immunities referred to those rights recognized and protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  These are rights against action by government, which are immunities as opposed to contractual or tort rights.

   The “Due Process of Law” clause has a precise meaning.  It means that life, liberty or property cannot be taken away from persons except pursuant to a fair trial.  It insured that freed slaves couldn’t be lynched, deprived of their freedoms or have their property taken except pursuant to the judgment of their peers in a free trial.  It does not include the judicial power to override acts of a State Legislature.

   The “Equal Protection” clause was limited to the Civil Rights Act of 1866.  It required the States to treat blacks the same as whites under the law.

 

   The Supreme Court has expanded the meaning of the 14th Amendment to legalize whatever conduct they happen to approve of, such as abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage.  They have used it as a blank check to restrict laws of the States with which they do not approve.  They have used it to require States to provide health care and education to illegal immigrants.  They have used it to strike down State laws which only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.  They have used it to strike down State laws against abortion and homosexual contact.

   In addition, they have used it to declare that corporations are “persons” and therefore covered under the Constitution.  All of this has led to a trampling of States Rights which are guaranteed under Article I,  Section 10 and Articles IX and X contained in the Bill of Rights.

   It has fostered bills such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This act had the good intention of guaranteeing employment and access rights to disabled people.  However, 20 years after it was enacted, fewer handicapped people are employed.  This is due primarily to the fact that the act makes it difficult to fire handicapped people and, therefore, employers are less willing to hire them.  It requires businesses to provide handicapped access even when handicapped persons do not use their facilities.  It resulted in businesses being sued because the mirrors in their bathrooms are six inches too high.  It has allowed people to apply for disability because their job was too stressful.  It has required any business which has a pool or spa to have a lift for the disabled.  Most recently, it required these businesses to replace their portable lifts with permanently installed lifts because they claimed it was degrading for the disabled to “ask” for assistance.  Most of the portable lifts had never even been used but now they are being forced to spend $10,000 per pool to install permanent lifts. It results in many hotels closing their pools and many new hotels refuse to install pools because of these laws.  How stupid can the government be?

   Under these acts any college or university who receives Federal funds was required to ensure equal participation of men and women in sports activities.  Because many of schools could not encourage enough women to participate in sports they were forced to cut back the male sports programs.  An unintended consequence no one foresaw!

   The age discrimination laws have actually resulted in fewer persons over 55 being employed because employers know it is almost impossible to fire a senior citizen.  In one case, a company hired a 57 year old woman to work in the deli department.  Her hiring was conditioned on her obtaining a health care card.  When she refused to comply the company was forced to fire her.  She sued and the company ended up settling for $75,000 plus legal fees.  As a small business these costs can be devastating.