The Importance of the 14th Amendment

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The fourteenth amendment covers equal protection as well as due process. One of the most influential amendments that is still playing a huge role even today in the court system is the equal protection clause. This clause which states in section 1 “No State shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In section 5, the Amendment establishes the federal civil rights legislation: “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” These clauses have been the basis for many court challenges, and ultimately the Supreme Court must decide if discrimination issues are unreasonably discriminatory against a particular group or class of individuals. This country has witnessed laws challenged under this Amendment such as the separate but equal laws, also known as Jim Crow laws. The Supreme Court must use three different tests to determine if a law breaks the equal protection clause. The three tests are to include strict scrutiny, which prevents certain groups from practicing a fundamental right, such as freedom of speech. The law must be a compelling state interest. A law based on a suspect classification such as race falls under this test. There must be justification that a law is written and it is a compelling state interest. The next test is intermediate scrutiny. This is more difficult for the Court to decide on, but under this test, laws based on gender classification are allowed only when they are clearly related to a government issue. The punishment for statutory rape was an example used. Men are punished but women generally aren’t. The reason being, women are the ones who become pregnant, so an over age man who impregnates an under aged girl has left her dealing with the ramifications of his actions. It is not as clear cut with an over aged women and under aged male. Yet having separate drinking ages for males and females does not meet the criteria of the intermediate...
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