The 14th Amendment: Upholding Equality in Justice

Title: The 14th Amendment: Upholding Equality in Justice


The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified on July 9, 1868, granted citizenship to all individuals born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves. It also prohibits states from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and from denying any person within its jurisdiction equal protection under the laws. Widening the scope of equality, this amendment has been pivotal in numerous legal cases. However, Section 2's mention of rebellion and other crimes has been cited to justify felony disenfranchisement. The fifth section empowers Congress for enforcement. The Equal Protection Clause mandates that every state ensures equal protection for all individuals within its jurisdiction (Cohen, 2008). This paper delves into the application of the 14th Amendment's principles of equality and fair treatment in dispensing justice.

Equal Treatment in Justice Dispensation

The principle of equal treatment under the law has eroded within America's criminal justice system. Prosecutors now wield immense discretion in choosing whom to prosecute and to what degree. Many individuals accused of crimes never face a jury trial. Disparate policing, rampant plea bargaining, overcrowded courts, and increasingly harsh sentencing have contributed to a burgeoning prison population, with Black citizens disproportionately affected as both defendants and victims. Despite widespread acknowledgment that the U.S. criminal justice system is harsher than it should be, there persists a belief among the majority of Americans that it operates fairly. Additionally, many argue that addressing social and economic issues is a more effective crime prevention strategy than bolstering law enforcement (Tillman, 2004).

Statistics reveal that a significant portion of inmates in federal correctional facilities are African American and Hispanic. This disparity has been attributed to biases within the justice system, where juries and judges often operate under the oppressive stereotype of minority groups as predisposed to criminality. Many African Americans report experiencing harassment by law enforcement solely based on their skin color. While acknowledging the presence of criminal activity and high crime rates in certain neighborhoods, it is crucial to reject using these factors as a basis for dispensing justice. Such practices perpetuate injustice and undermine the principles enshrined in the 14th Amendment.






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