The Civil Rights Cases Essay Research Paper — страница 3

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citizenship to be in jeopardy while previously those same rights were afforded without any indecision to white slave owners in the protection of slavery. One of the most common issues in US Supreme Court cases is the conflict of strict versus broad constructional interpretations. This is previously illustrated in the Dred Scott case where in Justice Taney?s opinion he stressed the strict interpretation of the word citizen in accordance with slaves (free or not). This same interpretation is implemented in Justice Bradley?s interpretation of the 14th Amendment. The Amendment specifically states that ?no state shall make or enforce any law? and makes no mention of the regulation individual or private wrongs. Therefore according to Bradley, this reserves the right to create such

legislation to the states, and any other interpretation exceeds the boundaries of the amendment. He relies in his argument of strict conservatism on many of the same issues previously mentioned. First of all, any abridging of the protected rights of a citizen by an individual not affiliated with the state is a private wrong, and correction and repercussion of that wrong lies in the power of the state. If the laws of the State do not correct the wrong, then that State is held in violation of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment is only to be corrective in nature and does not encompass regulation of the social rights of citizens. This power to regulate discrimination is also not found in the 13th Amendment, which only allows Congress the power to prevent the practice of slavery

and involuntary servitude, by legislation. All of these arguments exist in part in the constitutional issues previously mentioned. The strict construction argument that Justice Bradley relies upon is the fundamental argument of the case as it was in the Dred Scott decision. The most convincing and powerful arguments of Justice Harlan exist in his basis for the loose interpretation of the Constitution, the spirit upon which the amendments were intended. The opinion in these cases proceeds, it seems to me, upon grounds entirely too narrow and artificial. I cannot resist the conclusion that the substance and spirit of the recent amendments of the Constitution have been sacrificed by a subtle and ingenious verbal criticism. It is not the words of the law but the internal sense of it

that makes the law: the letter of the law is the body; the sense and reason of the law is the soul. Harlan felt the Court in its opinion abandoned the familiar rule that the full effect be given to the intent with which the amendment was adopted. To illustrate the basis of this argument he pointed to Chief Justice Marshall?s words in his opinion in McCullock v. Maryland which established the precedent of judicial review, the basis of the power of the Supreme Court. Justice Marshall noted that the national legislature must be allowed the discretion to ?enable it to perform the high duties assigned to it in the manner most beneficial to be people.? This doctrine should not be abandoned now, Justice Harlan said, when the issue involved is not dealing with master?s rights, but the

protection of the very rights of citizenship that embody freedom. The 14th amendment was created for a purpose to ensure equal rights to all citizens so that they may exercise those rights. That purpose, interpreting the amendment so it most benefits the people, grants Congress the power to enforce its provisions by appropriate legislation. ?No interpretation of the words in which those powers are granted can be a sound one,? Harlan strongly urges, ?which narrows down their ordinary import so as to defeat those objects.? The ruling in the Civil Rights Cases still holds true today. If the state does not assist the discrimination against another individual it is purely a matter between the two individuals, and subject to the laws of the state. It is one of the few examples of the

prevalence of state sovereignty in modern times disregarding the recent trend of the assertion of national supremacy. Though the famous argument of Justice Harlan?s opinion that the Constitution should be interpreted to the spirit of which it was intended seems to be the prevailing opinion of the day. It allowed for the expansion of civil rights in gay rights, AIDS discrimination, etc. The fundamental argument of the case strict versus loose construction continues to be a battle fought in the country, and it seems imminent that with the election (mostly likely) of President Bush and era of a more conservative court will begin. 333