Suppressing Voting Rights Is as Old as the Republic—But the Tactics Keep Changing 

Discriminatory State Constitutions, Poll and Literacy Taxes, and Now Photo ID Laws All Have Been Used to Keep Ballots From the Less Powerful 

The more that efforts to suppress voting rights in America change, the more they remain the same.

From the earliest days of the republic to the present, politicians have sought to limit the ability of non-whites to vote. What has changed is the nature of suppression—either the addition of regulations, or the deregulation of parts of the process—as well as the degree to which would-be vote suppressors reveal their intentions.

The American problem with voter suppression started with a void in the original Constitution, which did not include a right to vote. …

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Why America Keeps Battling to Live Up to the 14th Amendment

From Its Post-Civil War Origins to Today's Immigration Debates, the Constitutional Guarantee of Equal Protection and 'Birthright Citizenship' Has Been Bitterly Contested

The first clause of the 14th Amendment is a scant 28 words long. Yet when the amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868, it advanced the crucial task of turning …

The 1919 Murder Case That Gave Americans the Right to Remain Silent

Decades Before the Supreme Court's Miranda Decision, a Washington Triple Slaying Paved the Way to Protect Criminal Suspects

If you’ve ever watched an American television crime drama, you probably can recite a suspect’s rights along with the arresting officers. Those requirements—that prisoners must be informed that they may …

How Alexander Hamilton Fought the Tyranny of the Majority

By Shielding British Loyalists From Persecution, the Founder Elevated Principles Over Prejudice

The struggles of America’s cultural outsiders to be included in the country—in the face of disparagement, exclusion, or punishment—are as old as the nation. And, as Alexander Hamilton discovered in …

Why Legislators and Doctors Don’t Always Agree on the Definition of Death

While Patients' Families Think Life Ends With Your Last Breath, 50 States Point to Brain Activity

How can you truly know when someone is dead? Historically, death was determined by holding a mirror up to a person’s mouth to see if they were breathing. But this …