The Political Thirteenth Amendment

13 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2012 Last revised: 19 Apr 2012

Date Written: December 8, 2011


The United States Supreme Court has done little to develop the meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment. One could conclude from the Court's lack of development that the Amendment is unimportant, irrelevant, or limited to remedying the historical circumstances of chattel slavery, but it would be a mistake to interpret the lack of judicial doctrine as a lack of constitutional meaning. The political Thirteenth Amendment mandates that both its interpretation and its enforcement occur primarily through constitutional politics, not constitutional law. This essay, the conclusion to a Maryland symposium on the Thirteenth Amendment, explores the relationship between the Amendment and constitutional politics, and explains how the symposium contributes to our understanding of the political Thirteenth Amendment.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Constitutional History, Thirteenth Amendment, Legal History

JEL Classification: K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Zietlow, Rebecca E., The Political Thirteenth Amendment (December 8, 2011). Maryland Law Review, Vol. 71, No. 1, p. 283, 2011, University of Toledo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-11, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca E. Zietlow (Contact Author)

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States
(419) 530-2872 (Phone)
(419) 530-7911 (Fax)

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