This is my first blog, so bear with me. In light of the current affirmative action case involving the University of Texas and being interested in the subject I thought it would be a good idea to express some of my thoughts and invite others to join the conversation. Things are really heating up, as with the Supreme Court's decision to send the case back to the state courts, which allows room for more debate and dialogue on the subject. Instead of framing the issue as affirmative action versus legacies like the cartoon below illustrates I thought it would be a better idea to frame the conversation in a broader context of white privilege and reverse discrimination. By doing this I hope to illustrate how affirmative action, like all pieces of federal legislation, protect the rights of all people, black or white against state tyranny and individual bigots.
In addition to the cartoon, I have also posted a video.
I also have posted the lyrics and sounds of Kanye West's New Slaves off of his Yeezus album.
but let me first begin with an essay:
“The original Bill [of rights] also focused centrally on empowering the people collectively against government agents following their own agenda. The Fourteenth Amendment, by contrast, focused on protecting minorities against even responsive, representative, majoritarian government.” (Reed 215)
This essay will disprove the aforementioned statement written by Akhil Reed Amar, and assert that the Fourteenth Amendment functions today similarly to the way in which the Bill of Rights did in the wake of the American Revolution. Even though Thomas Jefferson and many other Anti-Federalist believed that the Bill of Rights was an infringement on State and Local Rights, it did succeed in securing all people with basic rights and autonomy, moving away from such tyrannical policies such as Taxation Without Representation and Intolerable Acts, upheld by the British Colonial Monarchy. Independence from Britain along with the Constitution and its first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights, secured individual rights that would safeguard any future acts of injustice and discrimination. The fourteenth Amendment did the same thing for all people at the conclusion of the Civil War, and even though it was created within the context of post-bellum American policy and the political direction toward enfranchisement of the American Negro, which may meet the criteria of what Reed calls a minority, The Fourteenth Amendment, after its ratification would be used by those who would be classified as part of the majority. Thus disproving Reed’s assessment of a narrow analysis of the amendment. This essay will illustrate the 14th Amendment as a progenitor of the Bill of Rights, as well as a policy used by members of the majority, and finally how the 14th Amendment ameliorated the relationship between state and federal government, and elucidate how state governments curbed the rights of people of color in very much the same way the British did to America.
Part of the Bill of Rights, or the first ten Amendments to the constitution describes a policy which may seem what may seem invasive, the third Amendment. It states: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.” This policy, without a doubt, was manifested by the arbitrary lodging of British Troops in the American colonies during the Revolution, and was written in order to safeguard American citizens from the abuse of power by the armed forces, whether they be from Colonial or National (Federalist) powers. As an aside, many middle Eastern countries are illuminating how important such a law can be, in terms of national security and individual freedoms. Many people have to succumb to the demands of the government whether official or non-official, which displaces people and glorifies armed force. Many countries seek a system such as the one we have here in the states, not only for material wealth but also for personal safety.
Similar to the “No Soldier shall”, the 14th Amendment states “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.” Again, the 14th Amendment extends the spirit of the first 10 Amendments or the Bill of Rights from tyranny and discrimination. Much like the 3rd Amendment curbs the power of armed forces, the 14th Amendment stops racist, bigoted, unjust state government officials from denying negroes citizenship. In addition to explicitly stating the limits of state power, the Amendment also sums up the spirit of the Bill of Rights with the clause: “life, liberty, or property, without due process”. This clause, like how the 3rd Amendment protects homeowners, protects all human beings living in America from unlawful destruction of basic human rights. Thus the 14th Amendment puts limits, like the Bill Of Rights, against tyrannical entities, like Colonial Britain or racist southern states.
In addition to the 14th Amendment being an extension of the Bill Of Rights, the 14th is also an Amendment that is surprisingly used by members of the majority, specifically white people. Take for instance the court case Cantwell v. Connecticut 1939
"Jesse Cantwell and his son were Jehovah's Witnesses, they were proselytizing a predominantly Catholic neighborhood in Connecticut. The Cantwells distributed religious materials by traveling door- to- door and by approaching people on the street. After voluntarily hearing an anti- Roman Catholic message on the Cantwells' portable phonograph, two pedestrians reacted angrily. The Cantwells were subsequently arrested for violating a local ordinance requiring a permit for solicitation and for inciting a breach of the peace.
Yes. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that while general regulations on solicitation were legitimate, restrictions based on religious grounds were not. Because the statute allowed local officials to determine which causes were religious and which ones were not, it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court also held that while the maintenance of public order was a valid state interest, it could not be used to justify the suppression of "free communication of views." The Cantwell's message, while offensive to many, did not entail any threat of "bodily harm" and was protected religious speech.
Like the way in which Anti- Federalist such as Thomas Jefferson despised tyrannical federal power, leaving the states little sovereignty, blacks feared the abuse of state powers on individuals. This would not only be a common thread in the 20th century, but also among whites who sought refuge in the wake of state hegemony.
Hale v. Kentucky, was a United States Supreme Court case relating to racial discrimination in the selection of juries for criminal trials. The case overturned the conviction of an African American man accused of murder because the lower court of Kentucky had systematically excluded African Americans from serving on the jury in the case. NAACP counsel, including Charles H. Houston, Leon A. Ransom and Thurgood Marshall, represented Hale. This case dealt with not only the ramifications of the 14th Amendment in the denial of due process, but also a clarification of the 6th Amendment.
In conclusion, the Fourteenth Amendment was an enhancement and extension of the Bill of Rights, those reaping the benefits of the legislation vary across race, religion, political philosophy. And yes it is possible, that a policy designed to protect what Reed calls the minority, in fact, has the power to protect the majority, thus serving as universal rights transcending ethnicity, class, gender, and aptitude.
Amar, Akhil Reed The Bill of Rights published by Yale University Press, Connecticut 1998
Cortner, Richard C. The Supreme Court and the Second Bill of Rights published by University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisonsin 1981
Rawn, James Jr. The Root and The Branch published by Blooms Bury Press, New York, NY 2010
......I will be checking back on this subject with a new essay regarding the following court cases: Bakke, Bollinger, with an analysis of Tim Wise's White Privilege
Enjoy the media!