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Legacy of Slaughterhouse, Bradwell and Cruikshank in Constitutional Interpretation


Wilson Ray Huhn


University of Akron - School of Law

November 14, 2009

Akron Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2009
U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-05

Abstract:     
The Slaughterhouse Cases, Bradwell v. Illinois, and Cruikshank v. United States, which were all decided between 1873 and 1876, were the first cases in which the Supreme Court interpreted the 14th Amendment. The reasoning and holdings of the Supreme Court in those cases have affected constitutional interpretation in ways which are both profound and unfortunate. The conclusions that the Court drew about the meaning of the 14th Amendment shortly after its adoption were contrary to the intent of the framers of that Amendment and a betrayal of the sacrifices which had been made by the people of that period. In each case the Court perverted the meaning of the Constitution in ways that reverberate down to the present day.

In these cases the Court ruled upon several critical aspects of 14th Amendment jurisprudence, including (1) Whether the 14th Amendment prohibits the States from interfering with our fundamental rights; (2) How the equality of different groups should be determined; and (3) How much power Congress has to protect the civil and political rights of American citizens - in particular, whether the 14th Amendment authorizes Congress to enact legislation to prevent mobs or other private individuals from violating people’s fundamental rights. The Court narrowly construed the constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and the power of Congress to protect civil rights.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: Constitution, Slaughterhouse Cases, Bradwell, Cruikshank, constitutional interpretation, Fourteenth Amendment, 14th Amendment

JEL Classification: K1

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Date posted: November 15, 2009 ; Last revised: November 8, 2010

Suggested Citation

Huhn, Wilson Ray, Legacy of Slaughterhouse, Bradwell and Cruikshank in Constitutional Interpretation (November 14, 2009). Akron Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2009; U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-05. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1506131

Contact Information

Wilson Ray Huhn (Contact Author)
University of Akron - School of Law ( email )
150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States
330-972-6791 (Phone)
330-258-2343 (Fax)
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