The Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868. This amendment because necessary after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, which freed the slaves. Although blacks were considered to be free with the passage of this amendment, many states instituted Black Codes, which severely limited the rights of blacks in those states. The Fourteenth Amendment sought to rectify this problem. The “equal protection” clause in this amendment has become an essential part of our civil rights.
The amendment, in part, says, “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.”
That final phrase, “equal protection of the laws,” is a powerful one as it states that every person must be treated uniformly in terms of the law and the protections it offers.