We rank the next amendment that has a lot of stuff in it.
One interesting argument during this crisis is whether President Trump is eligible to run for president due to the fact he led an insurrection on January 6, 2021, in a violent effort to prevent the official vote and begin the transfer of power from him to Joe Biden.
Questioning Trump’s eligibility can be traced back to the time immediately after we fought the Civil War. You remember the Civil War, right? It pitted the Southern States, who formed the Confederate States of America and seceded from the United States to preserve the institution of slavery and white supremacy, versus the United States, made up of the Northern States, led by a newly elected president, a Representative from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, and the cast of the movie Glory.
We know the outcome – the good guys, America, defeated the bad guys, the Confederates, over four years, even though Matthew Broderick died.
Despite the military victory, it’s easy to argue that the former Confederate states have won the long-term goal of disenfranchising the people they once enslaved.
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It’s challenging and damn near impossible to legislate morality. I can’t prevent you from hating America in your heart, but I should be able to prevent you from being elected to a position where your hatred for America can be acted upon.
So we won the war, and now what to do with people who openly acted upon defeating America?
This brings us to the Fourteenth Amendment, which tries to solve that question.
However, it doesn’t answer the legal dilemma that a president two centuries later would face – what happens when the chief executive rebels against the United States?
On top of that, the Fourteenth Amendment takes on what it means to be a citizen now that we have freed a ton of black people. There is other stuff as well.
So much stuff.
Let’s dive in.
6: Amendment XIV
Its purpose: Defines citizenship, appropriation of representatives, punishment for rebels, clarifies the actions toward Civil War debt, and passes laws around these ideas.
Year proposed: 1866
Year Ratified: 1868
Like a good Thanksgiving dinner, the Fourteenth Amendment offers a table full of clauses that should fill you up with protections for a free life.
There are five sections.
The first section establishes natural-born citizenship and the protections of due process and equal protection.
The following section is a mess regarding the appropriation of representatives to the federal government. It was supposed to provide equal voting rights to freed blacks, but we had to go ahead and pass the Fifteenth Amendment to clarify everything.
Section three’s purpose was to prevent Confederates from holding seats in Congress as the South sent traitors back to Congress to mess everything up.
Section Four clarified that despite the fact we whipped the Confederates, we weren’t going to make them financially whole now that we had taken away what they considered property.
The final Section allows Congress to pass laws to enforce the previous four sections. In case anyone has the idea that we couldn’t do this.
It's all good, like turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and corn casserole.
After ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, which has not been ranked, former Confederate states were determined to have life back to the ways before the Civil War. This meant even though black people were technically free and slavery had been abolished, we could still screw them over in other ways.
One way southern states regulated the lives of black people was through laws that were called Black Codes.
The Black Codes, which sounds more like a cool band I would go and see in concert, did a lot of horrible things to disenfranchise black people. Some laws prevented blacks from entering contracts unless a white person witnessed it. Another law said that if a black person testified in court, it could only be against another person of color.
One state passed a code that said if black people were leading an idle, immoral, or profligate course of life, it would be a crime punishable by imprisonment or whipping someone no more than 39 times.
Do these people forget we whipped them in the Civil War?
And this was the result we were given?
Fortunately, Congress overrode the veto, and it became law.
The law was meant to respond to the Black Codes debut album with critical force.
But the Supreme Court went ahead and, through a bunch of terrible decisions, rendered the effects of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 moot by declaring that states could do whatever they wanted within the law, and the law didn’t say that states couldn’t whip people for being immoral. And Congress couldn’t do anything about it.
If a state thought blacks were more immoral, well that isn’t racism, that’s a coincidence.
It makes you want to throw up your turkey.
Who proposed it?
Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. The 39th Congress passed the adjusted amendment, which didn’t include the right of blacks to vote. The House voted for it 138-36, while the Senate approved it 33-11.
Secretary of State William Seward moved the amendment to the states, where it was ratified two years later.
Congress also passed a law that required former Confederate states to ratify the amendment to rejoin the Union, but Ohio and New Jersey messed up their process. They didn’t officially pass it until 2003.
Interestingly, Kentucky ratified the amendment in March 1976 – two months after I was born.
Why did I rank it here?
The Fourteenth Amendment is an excellent amendment overall, but it has flaws. Like I’m an excellent history teacher guy, but I have major flaws when it comes to ranking stuff. And reading books more consistently. Also, I need an editor.
These aren’t things that would exclude me from your list of go-to history teacher guys/gals, but you can acknowledge there are places where I fall a bit short. I’m like a top-six history teacher guy.
Okay, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, the Fourteenth Amendment perhaps has too many things stuffed into it that make it problematic. Do you need a green bean casserole or rolls bigger than your fist? Probably not, but you are going to enjoy them anyway.
Just like not making a side salad, I can’t fault the guys who passed it for failing to include or specify that the president needed to be included in what it means to be inedible.
I’m not sure we needed a constitutional amendment to say we wouldn’t pay the debt our enemies caused. I’m not sure I needed that cheese plate to begin the eating process, but I went ahead anyway.
We certainly needed to figure out how we transitioned from an institution of slavery to a place that lived up to the creed that All Men and Women are created Equal, just like I needed to figure out how to make an espresso martini correctly.
Do you think the Fourteenth Amendment makes sense? Do you think section three applies to President Trump? Do you drop a raw egg into a beer and drink it as a Thanksgiving tradition?
Are you too stuffed to think about this?
Okay, let me know what you think of my ranking.
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and your food coma was restful and recharging. The turkey I cooked ended up being pretty good.
We had a small gathering of friends and family, and Anonymous ensured everything was cleaned up immediately. The house is basically spotless.
Blue ate turkey as well, but it’s a special dog food turkey, and we hand-feed him because he still had stitches on his tongue. We polished off a bottle of whiskey, drank too much wine, and listened to too much Taylor Swift. In an unusual move, I was wide awake past 8:30 p.m.
I’ll spend the rest of the weekend cleaning out our refrigerator based on Anonymous’s request that we remove any evidence that a raw turkey sat in there. I’m squeezing in a round of golf this morning, hungover; I'm not sure why I thought this would be a good idea. I need to do some Christmas shopping. There is still plenty of football to watch. I will nap like it’s my job.
But more importantly, I will be working on the next Maundy Monday Newsletter.
Have a great weekend, friends. I’m grateful for your support.