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14th Amendment of the US Constitution

  • Context (IE I TH): The SC of the U.S. State of Colorado disqualified Trump from holding the office of President under Section Three of the 14th Amendment to the USA.
  • This has barred former Trump from running for office again in the 2024 presidential election.
  • The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified on July 9th,1868.
  • The primary purpose (14th Amendment) was to address civil rights issues following the Civil War, particularly regarding formerly enslaved people.
  • This was in response to post-Civil War issues, including the Black Codes in Southern states.

American Civil War (1861-1865)

  • The war was fought between the Northern states and Southern states over the issue of slavery.
  • The North wanted slavery to be abolished, while the South wanted to retain it.
  • Slavery was abolished in northern states in 1804, and they became ‘free states’.

Economic Disparity between Northern and Southern States

  • Northern states were industrialised, while southern states were primarily agricultural.
  • Industrialized northern states preferred paid labourers, while agricultural southern states, which had large plantations, were dependent on slave labour (African-American slaves).
  • Northern states wanted a tax on imports from Britain, while southern states wanted tax-free trade with Britain.

Election of President Abraham Lincoln

  • He stood for the freedom of slaves.
  • Seven southern states seceded from the United States.
  • The war then began between the Unionists (The North) and the Confederacy (The South).
  • The war ended with the victory of the Unionists and led to the subsequent abolishment of slavery.
  • The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were introduced after the Civil War ended.

Black Codes

  • After the Civil War ended in 1865, some states passed black codes that severely limited the rights of Black people, many of whom had been enslaved.
  • These codes limited what jobs African Americans could hold, and their ability to leave a job once hired.

Key Clauses of the 14th Amendment

  • Citizenship Clause: Citizenship for all persons born or naturalised in the U.S.
  • Due Process Clause: Fair legal process is required for all citizens.
  • Equal Protection Clause: Equal legal protection for all citizens.

Significance of the amendment

  • Extended Bill of Rights protections to state actions.
  • Foundation for numerous civil rights advancements and Supreme Court decisions.

Impact on Federalism

  • Altered the balance of power between the federal government and states, especially in civil rights and liberties.

Section 3 of the amendment

  • It disqualifies anyone who has taken an oath to support the Constitution but engages in insurrection or rebellion against it, or aids its enemies, from holding any civil or military office in the US.

Similar provisions in the Indian Constitution

Equal Protection Clause

  • Article 14: IC guarantees “equality before the law” and “equal protection of the laws” within India.

Citizenship Clause

  • Articles 5 to 11: Deal with aspects of citizenship in India, including citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and incorporation of territory.

Due Process Clause

  • Article 21: Protects life and personal liberty, stating, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.

Protection of Civil Liberties

  • Article 19: Ensures the protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, assembly, etc.

Prohibition of Discrimination

  • Article 15: Prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

Disqualification for Public Office

  • Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Sections 8, 9, 10, 11): Lays out disqualifications for membership of Parliament and State Legislatures due to criminal convictions, corrupt practices, and certain office-of-profit positions.
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