14th Amendment-Incorporation Doctrine-Due Process Clause

The Intent of the 14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment was enacted to safeguard the rights of all citizens. The wording of the Amendment encompasses the entire institution of citizenry (those born and naturalized within the borders of the United States). Although the Amendment was intended for citizens of the United States in the first thirteen states, it was progressive in the sense that the country would admit other states into the union. When a state is admitted to be part of the United States, its citizens become naturalized citizens and they enjoy the rights as spelt out in the Bill of Rights.

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How the 14th Amendment Relates to Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) and Baron v. Baltimore (1833)

In Dred Scott v. Sanford case, the question was whether Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, had the right to demand freedom from his master since he had moved with him to state that had banned slavery. Before the passage of the 14th Amendment, people of color were not considered citizens because it was a privilege for white people. Upon its passage in 1868, it redefined citizenship by rendering all persons born or naturalized within the borders of United States citizens. Scott, therefore, qualified to be a citizen and acquired the right to demand freedom. In Barron v. Baltimore the Supreme Court ruled against Barron that he had no right to sue the state government because the Bill of Rights restrictions only apply to the federal government established by the federal constitution. The passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868, therefore, overturned the ruling since it introduced provisions that restricted states from making laws that violated individual rights to property. The 14th Amendment was necessary in the holdings of the two cases because it clarified the constitutional restrictions on state and federal government in as far as violating the Bill of Rights is concerned.

Supreme Court’s Interpretation of the 14th Amendment in Regards to the Bill of Rights

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment has progressed throughout history from selective to total incorporation. Before its passage, states viewed the enforcement of the Bill of Rights as a jurisdiction of federal government through Congress, but a restriction on states. Several Supreme Court cases since its passage continued to overrule state laws that violated the Bill of Rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Amendment.

Court’s Intent in Giltow v. New York (1925) and the Bill of Rights

The Intent of the court was to selectively incorporate the Bill of Rights by ruling that the 14th Amendment was applicable in New York. It, however, held that Gitlow’s reference to the First Amendment was limited by the fact that his words in the article he wrote advocating for the overthrow of government did not pass the “clear and present danger” test. The court succeeded in demonstrating that the 14th Amendment applied to states through its Due Process Clause.

Court’s Intent in Palko v. Connecticut and the Bill of Rights (1937)

The intent of the court was to apply selective incorporation by stating that the prohibition of double jeopardy in the Fifth Amendment was not applicable to Connecticut’s state law provisions as provided for in the 14th Amendment. The court also intended to show that a second trial of a case involving the same facts does not violate the Bill of Rights and subsequently the 14th Amendment. Later cases such as Benton v. Maryland (1969), however, challenged this decision by asserting that the double jeopardy prohibition was a fundamental constitutional concept that has to be incorporated in all states. It is set the stage for the Supreme Court to begin using the doctrine of selective incorporation to enforce the 14th Amendment.

One of the right that has successfully been incorporated since the passage of the 14th Amendment is the right to property. A state citizen whose right to property is violated in way or the other as a result of state law deserves compensation under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. A Supreme Court case that demonstrates the incorporation of the right to property is the Burlington and Quincy Railroad v. City of Chicago (1897). The Supreme Court held that a citizen has a right to some of fair compensation when state or local government appropriate private property. The court intended to uphold the individual rights provided for in the 5th Amendment to private citizens and as they pertained to state governments. The Supreme Court defined the right as fundamental because it pertains to Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Besides, the 14th Amendment restricts states from enacting laws that that violate the Bill of Rights. The Due Process Clause sets the legal standards through which a state may appropriate the property of a private citizen. The conundrum between defining “citizens of the United States” and “Citizens of a state” is therefore resolved through the provisions of the 14th Amendment.



Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243, 8 L. Ed. 672, 1833 U.S. L.E.X.I.S. 346 (1833).

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 15 L. Ed. 691, 15 L. Ed. 2d 691 (1857).

Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 58 S. Ct. 149, 82 L. Ed. 288 (1937).