THE CONSTITUTION: Anniversary Action

Of the 22 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, one of the most disputed is the 14th, which guarantees all persons "equal protection of the laws." A post-Civil War effort by Republicans to assure full civil rights for Negroes, it won no Democratic votes in Congress and only one in all of the state legislatures. It was ratified by Southern states in the Reconstruction period only because the Federal Government controlled them, and its principle has been widely ignored in the South ever since. Three states—Oregon, New Jersey and Ohio—ratified it and then tried...

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