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 former slaves into full citizens of the United States. And by recognizing that anyone born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to its jurisdiction, is automatically a U.S. citizen, the amendment would go on to take center stage in some of the most important legal decisions of the last hundred years.

Now the 14th Amendment is again embroiled in …

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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 …

How William the Conqueror Became England’s Peacemaker

The Norman Was Ruthless in Battle, but His Reign Brought Stability and Rule of Law

Since the publication of my William the Conqueror in the Yale University Press English Monarchs series in October 2016, I have often been asked how long it took me to …