What Rights Are Guaranteed in the 14th Amendment?


Quick Answer

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and also forbids any person or government from denying a citizen her right to life, liberty or property without due process of law. The amendment is remembered primarily as being the piece of legislation that freed all enslaved people in the United States and outlawed the practice of slavery.

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The 14th Amendment is one of the most historic pieces of legislation ever passed by the U.S. government; it is one of the major indicators of the end of the Civil War and of the Union's victory in that conflict. Because the 14th Amendment guarantees certain civil rights to all Americans, it remains the most-cited section of the Constitution in litigation.

Because the 14th Amendment freed all enslaved people and made the practice of slavery a crime, the measure was extremely unpopular in Southern states. However, the majority-Republican Congress was able to extract support from Southern politicians in exchange for renewed representation in the legislative branch. The amendment was also unpopular with Andrew Johnson, the president at the time. Johnson actually issued a veto of the amendment, which the powerful pro-abolition voting bloc in Congress subsequently overturned.

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