Equal protection is an important aspect of life that every citizen needs and deserves in the modern age of the world including both gender and race. The most important amendment that supports this argument is using the fourteenth amendment which states that all persons born in the country of the U.S. are granted citizenship and equal rights and the Equal Protection Clause with its history consisting of cases that helped that clause grow to be something greater. While the Constitution was written back in 1787 the 14th amendment wasn’t ratified until 1868 meaning that over time the living constitution constantly changes its interpretations of its laws and clauses.
“The fourteenth amendment has been a critical background of this debate.” (Young, 950). However not all individuals think the living constitution has made the correct progress and the reason for this is because many think the Equal Protection Clause shouldn’t be interpreted in certain parts of society but yet don’t realize that they are the same citizens who want the constitution to protect themselves which is important why the Equal Protection Clause not only exist but to continue improving the way of life in modern society now.
The Equal Protection Clause has had a history of interpretations and changes in dealing with race and gender. One of the most infamous cases that caused controversy between Equal Protection and racial segregation would be Brown v. Board of Education.
Brown made several interpretations to be made but even after the case was ruled many individuals thought to interpret the ruling in many ways with one such example being that every kid can now attain educational skills among races but the ruling didn’t mean that it could allow “equal access to schools with good resources.
” (Frampton). So with this issue arises of how people can interpret and understand the case ruling and how it affects the clause because even though the case was won it still important to recognize that “public education are of central importance”(Frampton) towards communities. This was not the only time the Supreme Court had to resolve issues dealing with communities but also dealing with race and most importantly, women.
This is seen in the Patterson v. Mclean Credit Union Case for it showed that if you were a colored person you were certainly not treated equally in the workplace environment as far to the extent that her co-worker got a promotion but after eight years “Patterson was denied a merit pay raise”(Reidinger) simply because she had “attitude problems”(Reidinger). This was to display how important it is for equality in the workplace simply because of what she endured while working at the union in which not only the problem could have arisen from the color of Patterson but also from gender as seen in Bradwell v. Illinois, Reed v. Reed, and lastly Roe v. Wade. Bradwell being denied her license to practice law which is a right that any citizen can earn to do but she could not simply because she was a woman and though her case was ruled that it was up to Illinois it was not in her right to wait almost 20 years later to finally achieve “legal practice in Illinois.”(Maltz). Reed v. Reed and Roe v. Wade made a remarkable change towards women’s right and equality to men because in these two cases women were now able to get gain estate without having the estate going to males first and most importantly women finally had the right to obtain an abortion if they wished which is the most important aspect when it comes to Equal Protection because it was not up to anyone else but themselves to decide what to do about their pregnancy.
The Supreme Court has had to deal with many cases that inevitably shaped to what the fourteenth amendment stands for now and how the Equal Protection Clause has developed towards protecting every single citizen in the country although it is far from perfect but it has made significant progress in its development to at least achieve an equal understanding between race and gender between females and males.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas (1954): This was a 9-0 Supreme Court Decision that ended and overruled the “Separate but equal” precedent which was from a previous case in the courts, Plessy V. Ferguson. The Supreme Court ruled that separating children in the public school system due to the race of the students was considered unconstitutional so they decided the end of racial segregation within the school system of the U.S. There was much resistance towards the ruling despite having two unanimous votes towards the case.
Patterson v. Mclean Credit Union (1989): A Supreme Court 9-0 decision that consisted of a case argued by Patterson, a bank teller who worked for Mclean Credit Union and filed the suit against the union in 1985. The reason for this course of action against the union was because of the bank teller being subjected to harassment during the 10 years she worked at the credit union. The significance of this case was particularly the involvement of section 1981, a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, for Patterson wanted to recover from the case under section 1981. The court instead directed the favor towards the union because they thought on the job harassment wasn’t “making” nor “enforcing” of a contract hence was not covered under section 1981. Though this did not stop her as she then proceeded to appeal her case to the court of appeals.
Bradwell v. Illinois (1873): A case decided 8-1 which ruled that Illinois did not violate the 14th Amendment when it denied the license to practice law to Myra Bradwell due to the reason that she was a woman. Her claim did not fall under the protection of the 14th amendment and because of that, it was up to Illinois to decide whether she can practice law or not before the courts. Although she did pass the BAR exam needed to achieve the license to practice law time did come around to where she could start practicing law about 20 years later after the case was established.
Reed v. Reed (1971): This was the first case in which the Supreme Court actually applied the 14th amendment towards women’s rights and that the Equal Protection Clause protected women. The case first started when Richard, the adopted son of Sally and Cecil Reed, committed suicide when he was under the care of his father. While the couple had been separated prior to the suicide Richard was under the custody of Sally until he hit his teenage years then was transferred over to be under the custody of Cecil. It was when he was 19 that he committed suicide but had no will to his name so Sally submitted an application in order to become an administrator for his estate but Cecil also did the same thing and the estate was given to him and not Sally, even though she applied for it first. This was due to Section 15-312 which basically summarized that men should be the ones to take any estate of the family rather than women so because of this the Supreme Court ruled that the administrators of estates cannot be named in a way that will discriminate any regardless of their gender.
Roe v. Wade (1973): A 7-2 court decision ruling that state laws that banned abortions were unconsidered unconstitutional and that it is the right of a woman to decide what happens to her fetus/unborn child. Jane Roe which was an alias made to protect the identity argued that her right to have an abortion was unconstitutional because her privacy rights concerning herself and her child went against several amendments among the bill of rights such as the first, fourth, fifth, ninth, and last but not least the fourteenth amendment. She used all these points to argue for her case because while abortion was allowed only if the life of the mother was in risk aside from that everywhere else in the country it was illegal to have an abortion if the mother was not in danger but went against equal protection for women.