The Truth About American History: An Austro-Jeffersonian Perspective

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4. The Fourteenth Amendment

The Truth About American History

Tags Legal SystemPolitical Theory

06/20/2005Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

This is a difficult issue. Most of the controversy is from Section One. What exactly does the first sentence mean? If the Fourteenth Amendment was in fact intended to bind the states to the Bill of Rights that the federal government could enforce, then it dramatically increases the police power of the federal government.

Woods’ instinct is that Berger, not Curtis, is right. Perhaps the 14th Amendment is merely codifying the Civil Rights Act of 1866, e.g. about contracts, travel, property, etc. This would have protected the Amendment from legal challenge. It was interpreted relatively conservatively until the Incorporation Doctrine in 1925. But, the Supreme Court does not have angels on it.

Was the Fourteenth Amendment really ratified? Its passage was blemished. Forrest McDonald has concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment was not constitutionally ratified. Woods agrees. The amendment has actually been used for a federal judge to order an increase in property taxes twice. Free services were extended to illegals in California. A racial quota system was called for in universities. In the name of protecting rights, enormous discretionary power has been given to the federal government.

Lecture 4 of 10 from Thomas Woods' The Truth About American History: An Austro-Jeffersonian Perspective.


Contact Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Tom Woods, a senior fellow of the Mises Institute, is the author of a dozen books, most recently Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion. Tom's articles have appeared in dozens of popular and scholarly periodicals, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages. Tom hosts the Tom Woods Show, a libertarian podcast that releases a new episode every weekday. With Bob Murphy, he co-hosts Contra Krugman, a weekly podcast that refutes Paul Krugman's New York Times column.