Surely, I’m not going to suggest repeal of the 14th Amendment? I’ve just said, in my analysis of the 13th Amendment that I am completely opposed to all forms of slavery. So I should be in support of the 14th Amendment, right? Actually … not so much.
Let me preface this by saying I am opposed to all forms of government discrimination and of private discrimination where it involves a public service. If you operate a bus company, for example, I think you have to offer transportation to all comers. A private business offering private services has a right to decide which customers to have or not, but the rest of us have a right to boycott that private business if we disagree with their personal stance. That’s market democracy and it works.
So what do I have against the 14th Amendment?
Let’s start with the idea that the federal government did not have the authority to force the states to abolish slavery. Slavery is unchristian and at odds with the Declaration of Independence’s foundational statement that “all men are created equal”, but the Constitution framers saw fit to allow states to retain slavery if they wanted. Extra Constitutional writings support the historical fact that the Constitution would not have been ratified had it attempted to abolish slavery. Delegates who opposed slavery felt that over time the South would let go of slavery as less efficient than wage labor and that future Constitutional amendments would eventually end the institution, but that is not what the Southern delegates felt they were agreeing to.
The Constitution did not give the federal government the authority to abolish slavery in the states or to wage war against its own citizens who were acting in accordance with the Declaration of Independence when they seceded from what they deemed to be a tyrannical union. In essence, the 14th Amendment was imposed unconstitutionally on the Southern states as an act of war. While I agree with what it accomplished, I don’t agree with how it was accomplished. The ends do not justify the means. The principles of liberty and states rights were violated by this amendment and by the war that made it possible. For that reason alone, I think the 14th Amendment needs to be revisited.
It’s also important to realize that the Southern states never ratified this Amendment. They accepted it, shoved down their throats as it were, as a concession of occupation. How is that just in a society that claims to value liberty?
Moreover, the 14th Amendment has been used to justify a great deal of federal abuse of states rights. Abortion until labor begins is the law of the land even though more than 50% of American voters say they are uncomfortable with it. Roe v Wade was decided on the 14th Amendment. Religious freedom has been undermined based on the 14th Amendment (google U.S. v. MacIntosh 1931; Everson v. Board of Education 1947; McCollum v. Board of Education 1948; Torcaso v. Watkins 1961; Engel v. Vitale 1962; Abington School Dist. v. Schempp 1963; Walz v. Tax Commission of City of New York 1970; Lemon v. Kurtzman 1971; Stone v. Graham 1980; Wallace v. Jaffree 1985; Edwards v. Aguillard 1987; Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh 1989; Lee v. Weisman 1992). State sovereignty is non-existent because of the 14th Amendment (google California Proposition 187; Saenz v. Roe 1999; North Carolina Board of Education v. Swann; Washington v. Seattle School District; U.S. v. Yonkers; Missouri v. Jenkins).
The 14th Amendment has been used to give the federal government authority over every law in every state that relates to life, liberty or property, completely nullifying the principle of enumerated powers and the 10th Amendment protection for state rights.
No, we shouldn’t go back to owning slaves and no liberty-minded American should stand for any attempt in that direction. It’s ridiculous, in the 2nd decade of the 21st century when our president is biracial, to insist that we still need to the 14th amendment to prevent slavery.
But to restore liberty for all Americans (including the descendents of slaves), yes, we need to look at the 14th Amendment, decide if it is congruent with our national values and repeal it and replace it as necessary.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
I more or less agree with this amendment. I’m the descendent of abolitionists. Slavery and involuntary servitude are unchristian and destructive of liberty and should have been disallowed by the federal constitution a long time before this amendment was passed. I understand why the liberty-minded Founders compromised with the slaveholders, but they were morally wrong to do so.
While I agree with the basic amendment, the phrase “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” is a problem for me. It’s a narrow exception that allows modern-day involuntary servitude by way of criminal conviction and necessarily encourages discrimination while denying a convicted person “equal protection of the law” as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
Many states deny felons, even after their punishment has been served, the right to vote, the right to bear arms, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to run for and/or hold public office. The disqualification from most employment that public records disclosures encourages is “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8th Amendment.
A felon living in the United States of American might as well be a slave – at least then they wouldn’t have to worry about putting food on the table.
Therefore, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution is unconstitutional law because it allows slavery to exist under a narrow exception for those who have been “duly” convicted for a crime. As such, modern-day slavery, by way of criminal conviction, necessarily encourages discrimination and denies a convicted person “equal protection of the law” guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, i.e. right to vote; 2nd Amendment right to bear arms; jury duty; disqualified from running for and/or holding political office, etc. Modern-day slavery by way of criminal convictions also subjects a convicted person to “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The 13th Amendment was supposedly designed to outlaw slavery in the United States, but what it actually did was target African Americans for criminal convictions. African Americans have the highest conviction rate of any racial group in the country. That was wrong and should be denounced, but we have a bigger problem today because people of all races and ethnicities are becoming victims of the growing American police state.
America was founded on the ideal that “all men are created equal”. We haven’t always lived up to that idea. For whatever reason, we seem always to be most comfortable with some group being officially less-than in our society. First it was black slaves, then it was Indians, then it was certain types of immigrants. In the 50s, it was people who held certain political designations. In our modern times, felons are the new “black.” That more of them are black than white perhaps feels justified to a small percentage of us, but increasingly, more whites are becoming felons.
I am not a drug user and do not think anyone needs to or should use drugs, but I see how great a segment of our population is or has been in prison for possessing small quantities of pot and I start to wonder what we think we’re doing as a nation that we’re creating so many felon-slaves. Worse, protest too vigorously at a public gathering and you too could become a felon, denied the right to bear arms, vote, take certain jobs, in some states, even hold a professional license.
It’s fashionable to say that these folks chose to break the law and therefore deserve what they get, but think about what is against the law now that wasn’t 30 years ago. What was not illegal when I was a kid is illegal today. Don’t pitch a fit on a plane if the stewardess treats you like a steer bound for slaughter, because calling her by the name she is earning could be called Assault and depending on how much force you put into those words, it’s a felony. If you have to pee in the woods, make sure you can’t be seen from the road, because that is public indecency and if a child sees you, it could be sexual assault of a minor (a felony).
Felons are a special class of citizen who are denied natural rights. As the surveillance state and public records disclosure has increased, even felons who managed to become model citizens with no police contact in decades are now being laid-off of jobs they’ve held for years because of new federal guidelines that don’t allow felons to work. Hospitals that accept Medicaid funds cannot employ felons. This resulted in a friend of mine who spent a week in jail 30-odd years ago for selling pot to a cop (a felony that could have carried a year-plus sentence) losing his job as the director of a substance abuse program at a major hospital, a position he’d held for over 10 years. He went into private practice, but he can’t receive Medicaid funds, and his attorney is now researching if ObamaCare will allow him to receive ANY insurance payments. The man has a doctorate in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work and he may not be able to get a job in his field because of something he did when he was 18 years old. By the way, he hasn’t had so much as a traffic ticket in the intervening years.
The United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate. On average, other countries have about 100 prisoners per 100,000 population. The U.S. rate is 500 prisoners per 100,000 residents, or about 1.6 million prisoners in 2010. While 1 out of every 142 Americans is now actually in prison, 1 out of every 32 of us is either in prison or on parole from prison. About 3.1 percent of the total US adult population — 6.7 million adult men and women — are now very non-voluntary servants of the state and many of them cannot get decent jobs, so they are either dependent on the state or involved in criminal activty because legitimate work is not open to them. Lest we turn this into a racial issue, statistics show that among parolees in 2012, 42 percent were black, 39 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic and 1 percent were of other races. Yes, blacks are still incarcerated more often, but the gap is closing.
What do we think we’re doing by creating this permanent underclass and insisting it’s okay because they chose to break the law? Are we crazy?!! Permanent underclasses are ripe fields for revolution and not the sort that leads to liberty for all.
Our Constitution should reflect our values. If we’re serious about that clause in the Declaration “all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, then we need to take a real hard look at the 13th Amendment and fix what’s wrong with it. The Constitution was written to protect the liberty of all American citizens except slaves. The 13th Amendment was meant to correct that odious flaw, except it just redefined who was a slave. We the people of the United States must combat the injustice of modern-day-slavery by protest and holding Congress responsible under Article 5 of the United States Constitution to propose an amendment in place of the unconstitutional 13th Amendment.
All forms of slavery must be abolished.
What if Americans Demanded the Ouster of This Government? » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.
I don’t usually agree with Dave Linderoff, so when I do, it’s worth noting. He asks the question that should be on all of our minds.
Before we devolve to the point of violence, I would hope we’d learn from the success of the Civil Rights movement and try non-violence first. When you talk to white folks, especially from the North, who saw the news footage of the peaceful people walking down the street singing songs, what won most of them to a cause that really wasn’t that important to their way of life was when they saw the water canon being deployed against the truly peaceful protesters who didn’t fight back.
Yes, there was violence in the Civil Rights movement … later, after the Civil Rights Act had been passed, after many of the actual changes in society had begun. Had those acts of violence happened earlier, I believe, the black community would have failed to achieve equality of opportunity.
That’s not idle guess on my part. I can look at my mother’s people (American Indians) who started violent in their bid for equality and are still sitting on the Res in idle. They failed to win over the majority to their cause.
Liberty-minded Americans are no less a minority. If we want to be heard by our culture, we have to speak up, but we also have to be willing to take the knocks for doing so and let the government look like the violent tyrants we claim they are.
The 12th Amendment enshrines the two-party system which has caused a great many of our problems in the United States. More than that, the vice president, with so few constitutional powers, was intended to be a watchdog against abuses of the president, to report abuses of presidential power to Congress for the purposes of impeachment. Impeachment was defanged by the 12th Amendment because, seriously, who would remove Barack Obama for Joe Biden willingly? But imagine Barack Obama’s presidency with John McCain or Mitt Romney looking over his shoulder. Not strong enough checks and balances? Imagine John F. Kennedy with Barry Goldwater as VP? Now we’re talking checks and balances! Al Gore looking over George Bush’s shoulder wouldn’t have been a bad thing either.
About the only thing our Founders could agree on 100% was the folly of “faction”, what we would call political parties. The other thing that had broad agreement among them was the absolute need for gridlock – for issues to be debated to death so that they either died of well-earned death by languishment or passed because they enjoyed broad public support. The deadlock of the two political parties in Congress is a recent occurrence, brought on more by the attention of the public than by any ideological division. Normally, the political parties are two shades of the same color that pretend to far more division than they actually show. No parties or a large range of many parties all with equal access to the ballot would slow down the legislative process and require more debate — both good things in a republic, so getting rid of or amending the 12th amendment would be good for America.
For the record, I favor dissolution of all political parties. I foresee coalition forces forming under a multi-party system. I want candidates who are answerable to the people, not to a partisan entity and certainly not to a coalition of partisan entities. If you doubt where this will end up, play Risk with people who know how to play the game sometime and you will understand what I mean.
The 11th Amendment – which basically says that the citizens of Michigan can’t sue the State of Massachusetts because they allowed gay marriage – should probably be scrutinized, not for what it says, but for how it has been interpreted by the modern SCOTUS to claim that citizens of Massachusetts cannot sue the State of Massachusetts because it allowed gay marriage. It has also been interpreted to mean that the states surrendered the sovereign immunity from federal suits when they ratified the Constitution.
So, the federal government decides that we all have to accept abortion and all the states have to roll over and take it. Does that sound like something the Founders would have agreed to? Hell, no!
Obviously this needs to be reconsidered because citizens of a state should have the right to bring suit against their state and federal governments when those governments violate our natural rights. To deny that is to abrogate certain principles of self-government. And the interpretation against the clear reading of the text must also needs to be dealt with. Seriously, the English language has not changed that much since the writing of the Constitution. The claim to fuzzy interpretation is just a way to get around the intent of the amendment. One reason for an Article V convention would be to clear up the confusion caused by interpretative manipulations.