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Right of Congress to Enact Civil Rights Legislation

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Where does Congress get the power to enact civil rights legislation?

If that right is not specifically enumerated in the constitution, how can we know that protection of civil rights, specifically the prohibition against discrimination, was intended by the framers of the Constitution?

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The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1, of the Constitution, ratified in 1868, defines who are citizens of the United States and that no State shall pass any laws or enforce any laws that will curtail the privileges or immunities (FN1) of any citizen, that may deprive any citizen or resident living therein of their rights to life, liberty , or property (civil rights), and their due process (FN2) and equal protection rights under the law. (FN3)

The Fourteenth Amendment Section 1 states:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Fourteenth Amendment Section 5 states:

Section 5 is the last section of the Fourteenth Amendment where the power to enforce these provisions through appropriate legislation is entrusted to the Congress.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Explanation of Section 5:

There has been various interpretations of Section 5 by the Supreme Court throughout the years since the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. The focus of these cases centered around issues regarding whether Congress overstepped its powers pursuant to Section 5. These cases reflected the tension between judicial role (Supreme Court) in interpreting the Constitution and legislative role (Congress) in enforcing specific amendments of the Constitution.

The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified during the Reconstruction Period of the United States. The Reconstruction Period was the era right after the civil war where slavery was abolished and debates centered around protecting the rights of the newly freed slaves. The issue of Congressional right to enforce laws around the civil rights of the African Americans, thereafter, had gone through many ...

Solution Summary

This is a 9,174 word document explaining how the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to enact civil rights legislation. The document specifically explains Section 5 as the section where the power to enforce these provisions through appropriate legislation is entrusted to the Congress.