After 149 years, Kansas lawmakers still grappling with 14th Amendment
The 14th Amendment was one of three post-war amendments that were supposed to put the issues of slavery and racial discrimination to rest. It’s the one that says, among other things, that states may not deprive their citizens of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any of them equal protection under the laws.
But today, 149 years later, issues that are embedded in the 14th Amendment continue to stir controversy in statehouses around the country, on issues ranging from abortion to gay rights, and from even voting rights to school finance.
Richard Levy, who teaches constitutional law at the Kansas University law school, said it’s not surprising that state governments are continually embroiled in 14th Amendment controversies.
'The first thing to understand is, the 14th Amendment substantially restricts the power of state governments. It imposes requirements on them that they didn’t used to have,' Levy said.
'Whenever the constitution limits state power, you get some resistance to that,' he said. 'There were resistances to original provisions of the Constitution, some of those still sort of persist, and where the Constitution in other provisions restricts states’ power, you sometimes get conflicts.'”