Due Process, Equal Protection with Privileges or Immunities…John Bingham’s invaluable Gift to Americans
He was appointed to sit as an Assistant Judge Advocate General for the President Lincoln assassination trial, a prosecutor for the Andrew Johnson impeachment trials and an ex-member of the Opposition party (those opposed to the expansion of slavery) finally becoming a Republican Senator for the state of Ohio. I’m speaking of John Bingham, whom left his legacy in the history annals United States of America’s Constitution and is known as the framer for the 14th amendment and its key clauses for equality. The Amendment that has some of the most significant clauses relating to civil rights and addressing control laws, three of which are the Due Process clause, the Equal Protection clause and the Privileges and Immunities clause.
The Due Process clause:
prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to make sure fairness.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment serves three distinct functions in modern constitutional doctrine: “First, it incorporates [against the States] specific protections defined in the Bill of Rights….Second, it has a substantive component, sometimes called ‘substantive due process.’…Third, it is a guarantee of fair procedure, sometimes called ‘procedural due process.
The Equal Protection Clause was specifically added for states that had black codes.
Black codes were, many laws enacted in the states of the former Confederacy after the American Civil War, in 1865 and 1866. These laws were designed to replace the social controls of slavery that had been removed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and were thus intended to assure continuance of white supremacy. Tennessee Democrat Andrew Johnson, was president during this time and his southern sensibilities allowed a leniency towards the southern states feeling comfortable and well within their right to enact such blatantly discriminating laws.
The Equal Protection Clause as John Bingham clarified it’s meaning was:
The Magna Charta “gave the protection of the laws only to freemen” while the Fifth Amendment used “more comprehensive words, ‘no person’” shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. And thus,“the people by their Constitution declared the equality of all men, and by the express limitation forbade the Government of the United States from making any discrimination.”
Privileges and Immunities Clause in Article Four of the original unamended Constitution was the inspiration of Bingham’s to drafted the Privileges or Immunities Clause, which reads:
The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to secure to the citizens of each state all privileges and Immunities of citizens in the several states…..
or in other words:No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or Immunities of citizens of the United States….
on April 28 of 1866, the Joint Committee of Fifteen voted in favor of a second draft proposed by Congressman Bingham, which would ultimately be adopted into the Constitution, along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, this clause became part of the Constitution on July 9, 1868.
John Bingham’s contribution to the Constitution for the United States of America is so invaluable that you would think his name would be one of common knowledge, it isn’t, at least outside of legal circles, but his legacy lives on and still holds strong, as the 14th Amendment is cited in more litigation than any other amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Correlate this very brief delving into the history of the 14th Amendment with the present outcry for a quick solution to crimes committed by criminals with guns, and you can see why there is such a large outcry put forth by pro-second amendment advocates raised up in voices to defend the right to bear arms and stop the oppression of gun control legislation. It would behoove all Americans to be more aware of their history on gun control and it’s relation to civil rights, only then perhaps, one may see the value of this freedom, which can protect even the other freedoms.
I should also mention that one of the most significant uses of the 14th amendment’s Privileges or Immunities clause was by Justice Clarence Thomas in the McDonald v Chicago case, stating in his written opinion:
“In my view, the record makes plain that the Framers of the Privileges or Immunities Clause and the ratifying-era public understood — just as the Framers of the Second Amendment did — that the right to keep and bear arms was essential to the preservation of liberty,” Thomas wrote. “The record makes equally plain that they deemed this right necessary to include in the minimum baseline of federal rights that the Privileges or Immunities Clause established in the wake of the War over slavery.”