The Fourteenth Amendment, that was proposed and ratified immediately after the civil war is regarded as one of the most important legislations appended to the United States constitution. The Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses that comprise the amendment make it a very valuable support for immigrants and minorities. In the context of the civil war, it liberated the African American slaves and brought equality in the American society, at a conceptual level at least. The fourteenth amendment acted as the foundation upon which the civil rights movement of the mid twentieth century arose. The amendment had been instrumental in deciding the outcomes of such landmark cases as Brown v Board of Education and Roe v Wade (Daniel, p.15).
The section 1 of the fourteenth Amendment is a guarantee of citizenship for those who are either born or naturalized in the United States, ensuring that they enjoy rights to life, liberty and property. It also guarantees all such citizens equal protection of the laws. At the time of drafting this piece of legislation, the minority group of reference is African Americans, who were erstwhile held as slaves. But the pattern of immigrants to America in subsequent decades saw a large number of Asians assimilating themselves into the American society. As the complexion of the American demography evolved with time so too the significance and interpretation of the fourteenth amendment. The section 1 states it in no ambiguous terms that children born on the soil of the United States automatically qualify as citizens (unless it is a case of rare exception). This guarantee of citizenship whose legal term is “jus soli” or “right of the territory” is quite advanced for its time. Such privileges did not exist in continental Europe and the rest of the world. So in this aspect the provisions of the fourteenth amendment are quite revolutionary in their nature and the Congress of late 1860’s deserves much credit for its foresight (Williams, p.14).