Monday, January 26, 2015

The 14th Amendment: A Repudiation of our Founding Principles

A majority of Americans take pride in their history and heritage.  Those principles, stated in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, resonate to this day.  However, I’m here to say Americans unwittingly rejected those principles a long time ago.

Whatever you may think of the American Civil War, the rejection of the Declaration of Independence was self-evident.  The North invaded, defeated, and occupied the South.  Southerners who participated in the rebellion were disenfranchised.  They were not allowed to hold public office or vote; therefore, they were at the mercy of ravenous carpetbaggers and scalawags.  Life, liberty and property were in peril.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The 14th Amendment facilitated the disenfranchisement of the South, even though, it didn’t pass constitutional requirements through the ratification process; yet, was promulgated and enforced by radicals in Washington D.C. 

Was the intent by the authors of the 14th Amendment a repudiation of a limited central government as was dictated by our founders?  The Bill of Rights was meant to restrain the central government, and indeed was a prerequisite for ratification by the States; yet, those moorings have been turned on the States.  They’ve become bound by the very tools they demanded as a means to protect themselves from an abusive central government that they instinctively knew would abrogate States’ sovereignty and self-determination.

Not only is the 14th’s legitimacy in question, so is its intent.  Many unscrupulous politicians employ broad language to deceive the general population. Section One is a perfect example of ambiguity in a law.   Statists argue that the 14th Amendment dictates that the Bill of Rights applies to all States and not just the federal government; therefore, states’ laws and constitutions will constantly be under the purview of the federal government.  This is just the opposite of what our founding fathers intended.

I ask, did northern states willingly agree to abdicate self-governance and determination to a distant capitol?  Did they want an unaccountable federal judiciary declare their laws and constitution, unconstitutional?  I don’t think so.

So we are left with intent vs. construction of the First Section in the 14th Amendment of which the principle author is Congressman John Bingham of Ohio.  Detractors state Bingham was a muddled thinker, a confused man, and Section One is a reflection of the man himself.

I contend Bingham was a typical politician who hid behind broad language to conceal his true intent, and that is a strong central government that would wield power over the states.  If you read the rest of the 14th Amendment, there is no ambiguity.  Here is the 14th Amendment:

Section 1.

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.

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. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

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, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

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. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article


There is no ambiguity in subsequent sections.  Southerners who participated in the rebellion were not allowed to vote or hold public office.  Southerners were forced to pay Northern war debt, including pensions for their soldiers, while at the same time having to pay their own without any recourse from the federal government.  Yet, we are left with an ambiguous Section One and a continuous debate about intent vs. construction.

I believe we know the intent of its authors.  It was to use broad, ambiguous language as a means to shield politicians from the wrath of their constituents.  Their true intent was to unleash a central government that would use its arbitrary authority to exercise power over states and its citizens.  Ultimately, it was a repudiation of our founding principles.   


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