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Newspapers and the Fourteenth Amendment: What Did the American Public Know About Section 1?

Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, Vol. 18, 2009

Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Papers No. 043

38 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2009  

George C. Thomas III

Rutgers Law School

Date Written: March 27, 2009

Abstract

For over sixty years scholars have debated whether Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment "incorporated" the Bill of Rights guarantees and thus made them enforceable against the states. Recently, the debate has turned to what the state legislators might have known when they ratified the amendment. In this paper, presented at the University of San Diego Law School on January 7, George Thomas discusses the body of evidence already available and then presents new evidence gathered from a search of newspaper archives for the period 1865 to 1869. He discovered one newspaper article that clearly makes the incorporation case and three others that offer lesser degrees of support for the proposition that educated men of the era were aware that Section 1 included the Bill of Rights. But 96% of the articles that discussed "privileges" and "immunities" gave no hint of a connection with the Bill of Rights.

Keywords: newspaper, Fourteenth Amendment, public

JEL Classification: K4, K1

Suggested Citation

Thomas, George C., Newspapers and the Fourteenth Amendment: What Did the American Public Know About Section 1? (March 27, 2009). Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, Vol. 18, 2009; Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Papers No. 043. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1392961

George C. Thomas III (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

NJ
United States

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