The Constitutional Amendment That Reinvented Freedom

T.J. Stiles has a powerful essay today on the 14th Amendment in light of its upcoming 150th anniversary.

The 14th Amendment is felt by all of us, every day. If it did not invent freedom, it transformed and strengthened it, codifying a universal definition of individual rights and national identity that has been an example to the world. But the failings of those who wrote it linger on. Many of us still have not internalized the idea that an American can look like anyone in the world. Whoever calls the police on a peaceful, unarmed black or brown person is acting in a long, grim tradition. Complaints about the immigration of Muslims, Latin Americans or people from “shithole countries” restate the original arguments against the 14th as opening the doors to “heathens” and “pagans.” Even debates over the intrusiveness of the federal government and the rights of corporations are rooted in the amendment that forever altered Washington’s role in American life.

Read the rest here.