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Celebrates 150th Anniversary Of Its Ratification to U.S. Constitution 

TRENTON – The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today adopted Senator Shirley K. Turner’s resolution commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to United States Constitution.

This joint resolution, SJR-67, celebrates the second of three constitutional amendments known as the Reconstruction Amendments. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments, ratified between 1865 and 1870 abolished slavery (13th), guaranteed all persons born in the United States or naturalized their right to  citizenship and the equal protection of the law (14th), and affirmed the right of every citizen to vote no matter their “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (15th).  The Fourteenth amendment was viciously opposed by former Confederate States that ratified it under the threat of having no representation in Congress.

“If it did nothing more than grant citizenship to former slaves that had only recently been freed, the Fourteenth Amendment would in itself warrant jubilant celebration on its 150th Anniversary.  Recognizing the humanity and innate rights of those who had suffered the injustice of being kidnapped, bought, sold, and worse, truly was a profound step forward for our country,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/

Mercer). “But the groundwork laid by this amendment and the foundation it built for ongoing civil rights legislation, continues to liberate Americans to this day.”

While the Reconstruction era and its spirit of hope and progress was abruptly ended by the adoption of Jim Crow laws across the nation, the three constitutional amendments, especially the Fourteenth, paved the way for many of the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in the 20th century.

Among the major decisions of the Supreme Court that were based on the Fourteenth Amendments were Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which desegregated public schools, Loving v. Virginia (1967), which repealed State prohibitions on interracial marriages, and Roe v. Wade (1973), which deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment transformed the U.S. Constitution to one that protects fundamental rights from state as well as federal government abuse.

Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, would be transmitted to the National Constitution Center.  With a unanimous vote of 5-0, the resolution passes to the full Senate for further consideration.