Today we celebrate a dark event in American history recognized by few for what it truly portends. The passage of the Fourteenth Amendment wrecked America:
July 28, 1868: Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, granting citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States – including formerly enslaved people – is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.
This does not sound so bad, so far… keep reading:
The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”
This was a careful sleight-of-hand. Under the Constitution previously, government was restrained from infringing upon the natural rights of citizens: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
With 14A, the law created an affirmative duty for government to enforce equal protection, something which rapidly extended to private industry.
That meant that government had a mandate to write law forcing private business to include all citizens in its product offerings. This led to other legislation, such as that which forces you to bake a gay cake or rent to minorities, as was intended by the 14A equal protection clause:
A guarantee of equal protection of the laws was contained in every draft leading up to the final version of section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The desire to provide a firm constitutional basis for already-enacted civil rights legislation and to place repeal beyond the accomplishment of a simple majority in a future Congress was important to its sponsors. No doubt there were conﬂicting interpretations of the phrase “equal protection” among sponsors and supporters and the legislative history does little to clarify whether any sort of consensus was accomplished and if so what it was. Although the Court early recognized that African-Americans were the primary intended beneficiaries of the protections thus adopted, the spare language was majestically unconfined to so limited a class or to so limited a purpose. Though efforts to argue for an expansive interpretation met with little initial success, the equal protection standard ultimately came to be applicable to all classifications by legislative and other official bodies. Now, the Equal Protection Clause looms large in the fields of civil rights and fundamental liberties as a constitutional text affording the federal and state courts extensive powers of review with regard to differential treatment of persons and classes.
Eventually this extended to the “disparate impact” legal theory, which held that in private activities, if minorities were not present, discrimination was assumed:
Further, the Court had considered various civil rights statutes which provided that when employment practices are challenged for disqualifying a disproportionate numbers of blacks, discriminatory purpose need not be proved and that demonstrating a rational basis for the challenged practices was not a sufficient defense.
Through these changes, we went from a “natural rights” society where government was restricted from infringing on the rights of citizens to a society where racial equality is enforced with penalties, confiscation, and arrest of those who do not show an “equal” representation of faces in their audience.
Many laws followed the 14A model, as was intended, including the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1957, 1964, and 1991.
This had massive repercussions for our legal system, creating the litigious environment we had today, because it encouraged lawsuits to enforce civil rights:
The Civil Rights Act began a gradual transformation of the federal courts into the primary forums for individuals to enforce their constitutional and statutory rights.
Notice the 14A-style wording of our federal civil rights code:
All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.
In other words, the whole point of the Civil Rights Acts (the first passed before the 14A, although the 14A was drafted prior) was to force inclusion of minorities into the majority lifestyle.
As we commemorate the passage of the 14A today, consider how many laws would lose their legal footing entirely if this amendment went away.