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[Cite as Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46, 78, 99, 100, 105, 109 n.3, 119, 124 (1947). NOTE: This decision concerns compelled testimony and whether the protections of the Fifth Amendment was made enforceable by the Fourteenth Amendment against state infringements. Dissenting from the Court's decision that it was not, Justice Black argued that all the bill of rights were made enforceable by the Fourteenth Amendment. Listing Supreme Court decisions withholding amendments Five, Six, Seven, and Eight from enforceability against states, Justice Black listed Presser (116 U.S. 252) and quoted the Second Amendment's clause "'right of the people to keep and bear arms...,'"(P. 78) In an Appendix, Justice Black quoted at length from the debates surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment and other acts of that era. An emphasis on arms or the right to arms appears in this Appendix five times (P. 99, 100, 105, 109 n.3, 119). Justice Murphy's dissent also advocated "that the specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights should be carried over intact into the first Section of the Fourteenth Amendment." (P. 124)]

[Adamson v. California continued
Return to pages 46-58 (Majority opinion).
Return to pages 59-67 (Frankfurter, concurrence).
Return to pages 68-77 (Black, dissent).
Return to pages 78 (Black, dissent cont.).
Return to pages 79-91 (Black, dissent cont.).
Currently at pages 92-122 (Black, Appendix).
Proceed to pages 123-125 (Murphy, dissent).]

[paragraph continued from previous page] clearly marked constitutional boundaries seek to execute policies written into the Constitution; in the other they roam at will in the limitless area of their own beliefs as to reasonableness and actually select policies, a responsibility which the Constitution entrusts to the legislative representatives of the people." Federal Power Commission v. Natural Gas Pipeline Co., 315 U.S. 575, 599, 601, n.4.

Mr. Justice Douglas joins in this opinion.

[For dissenting opinion of Murphy, J., see post, p. 123.]



The legislative origin of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment seems to have been in the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. That Committee had been appointed by a concurrent resolution of the House and Senate with authority to report "by bill or otherwise" whether the former Confederate States "are entitled to be represented in either House of Congress." Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1865) 6, 30. The broad mission of that Committee was revealed by its very first action of sending a delegation to President Johnson requesting him to "defer all further executive action in regard to reconstruction until this committee shall have taken action on that subject." Journal of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1866), reprinted as Sen.Doc. No. 711, 63d Cong., 3d Sess. (1915) 6. It immediately set about the business of drafting constitutional amendments which would outline the plan of reconstruction which it would recommend to Congress. Some of those proposed amendments related to suffrage and representation in the South. Journal, 7. On January 12, 1866, a subcommittee, consisting of Senators Fessenden (Chairman of the Reconstruction Committee) (p.93)and Howard, and Congressmen Stevens, Bingham and Conkling, was appointed to consider those suffrage proposals. Journal, 9. There was at the same time referred to this Committee a "proposed amendment to the Constitution" submitted by Mr. Bingham that:

"The Congress shall have power to make all laws necessary and proper to secure to all persons in every State within this Union equal protection in their rights of life, liberty, and property." Journal, 9.

Another proposed amendment that "All laws, State or national, shall operate impartially and equally on all persons without regard to race or color,"[93.1] was also referred to the Committee. Journal, 9. On January 24, 1866, the subcommittee reported back a combination of these two proposals which was not accepted by the full Committee. Journal, 13, 14. Thereupon the proposals were referred to a "select committee of three," Bingham, Boutwell and Rogers. Journal, 14. On January 27, 1866, Mr. Bingham on behalf of the select committee, presented this recommended amendment to the full committee:

"Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to secure all persons in every State full protection in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property; and to all citizens of the United States, in any State, the same immunities and also equal political rights and privileges." Journal, 14.

This was not accepted. But on February 3, 1866, Mr. Bingham submitted an amended version: "The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to secure to the citizens of each State all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States (art. 4, sec. 2); and to all persons in the several States equal protection (p.94)in the rights of life, liberty, and property (5th amendment)." This won committee approval, Journal, 17, and was presented by Mr. Bingham to the House on behalf of the Committee on February 13, 1866. Cong. Globe, supra, 813.


When, on February 26, the proposed amendment came up for debate, Mr. Bingham stated that "by order ... of the committee ... I propose adoption of this amendment." In support of it he said:

... the amendment proposed stands in the very words of the Constitution of the United States as it came to us from the hands of its illustrious framers. Every word of the proposed amendment is to-day in the Constitution of our country, save the words conferring the express grant of power upon the Congress of the United States. The residue of the resolution, as the House will see by a reference to the Constitution, is the language of the second section of the fourth article, and of a portion of the fifth amendment adopted by the First Congress in 1789, and made part of the Constitution of the country....

"Sir, it has been the want of the Republic that there was not an express grant of power in the Constitution to enable the whole people of every State, by congressional enactment, to enforce obedience to these requirements of the Constitution. Nothing can be plainer to thoughtful men than that if the grant of power had been originally conferred upon the Congress of the nation and legislation had been upon your statute-books to enforce these requirements of the Constitution in every State, that rebellion, which has scarred and blasted the land, would have been an impossibility....


"And, sir, it is equally clear by every construction of the Constitution, its contemporaneous construction, its continued (p.95)construction, legislative, executive, and judicial, that these great provisions of the Constitution, this immortal bill of rights embodied in the Constitution, rested for its execution and enforcement hitherto upon the fidelity of the States...." Cong.Globe, supra, 1033, 1034.

Opposition speakers emphasized that the Amendment would destroy state's rights and empower Congress to legislate on matters of purely local concern. Cong.Globe, supra, 1054, 1057, 1063-1065, 1083, 1085-1087. See also id. at 1082. Some took the position that the Amendment was unnecessary because the Bill of Rights were already secured against state violation. Id. at 1059, 1066, 1088. Mr. Bingham joined issue on this contention:

"The gentleman seemed to think that all persons could have remedies for all violations of their rights of 'life, liberty, and property' in the Federal courts.

"I ventured to ask him yesterday when any action of that sort was ever maintained in any of the Federal courts of the United States to redress the great wrong which has been practiced, and which is being practiced now in more States than one of the Union under the authority of State laws, denying to citizens therein equal protection or any protection in the rights of life, liberty, and property.


"... A gentleman on the other side interrupted me and wanted to know if I could cite a decision showing that the power of the Federal Government to enforce in the United States courts the bill of rights under the articles of amendment to the Constitution had been denied. I answered that I was prepared to introduce such decisions; and that is exactly what makes plain the necessity of adopting this amendment.

"Mr. Speaker, on this subject I refer the House and the country to a decision of the Supreme Court, to be found in 7 Pet., 247, in the case of Barron v. The Mayor and City (p.96)Council of Baltimore, involving the question whether the provisions of the fifth article of the amendments to the Constitution are binding upon the State of Maryland and to be enforced in the Federal courts. The Chief Justice says:

"'The people of the United States framed such a Government for the United States as they supposed best adapted to their situation and best calculated to promote their interests. The powers they conferred on this Government were to be exercised by itself; and the limitations of power, if expressed in general terms, are naturally, and we think necessarily, applicable to the Government created by the instrument. They are limitations of power granted in the instrument itself, not of distinct governments, framed by different persons and for different purposes.

"'If these propositions be correct, the fifth amendment must be understood as restraining the power of the General Government, not as applicable to the States.'

"I read one further decision on this subject--the case of the Lessee of Livingston v. Moore and others, 7 Peters, page 551. The court, in delivering its opinion, says:

"'As to the Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, they must be put out of the case, since it is now settled that those amendments do not extend to the States; and this observation disposes of the next exception, which relies on the seventh article of those amendments.'


"'The question is simply whether you will give by this amendment to the people of the United States the power, by legislative enactment, to punish officials of States for violation of oaths enjoined upon them by their Constitution? ... Is the Bill of Rights to stand in (p.97)our Constitution hereafter, as in the past five years within eleven States, a mere dead letter? It is absolutely essential to the safety of the people that it should be enforced.

"Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that this very provision of the bill of rights brought in question this day, upon this trial before the House, more than any other provision of the Constitution, makes that unity of government which constitutes us one people, by which and through which American nationality came to be, and only by the enforcement of which can American nationality continue to be.


"What more could have been added to that instrument to secure the enforcement of these provisions of the bill of rights in every State, other than the additional grant of power which we ask this day? ...

"As slaves were not protected by the Constitution, there might be some color of excuse for the slave States in their disregard for the requirement of the bill of rights as to slaves in refusing them protection in life or property....

"But, sir, there never was even colorable excuse, much less apology, for any man North or South claiming that any State Legislature or State court, or State Executive, has any right to deny protection to any free citizen of the United States within their limits in the rights of life, liberty, and property. Gentlemen who oppose this amendment oppose the grant of power to enforce the bill of rights. Gentlemen who oppose this amendment simply delare to these rebel States, go on with your confiscation statutes, your statutes of banishment, your statutes of unjust imprisonment, your statutes of murder and death against men because of their loyalty to the Constitution and Government of the United States." Id. at 1089-1091.

"... Where is the power in Congress, unless this or some similar amendment be adopted, to prevent the reenactment (p.98)of those infernal statutes ...? Let some man answer. Why, sir, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Hale] ... yesterday gave up the argument on this point. He said that the citizens must rely upon the State for their protection. I admit that such is the rule under the Constitution as it now stands." Id. at 1093.

As one important writer on the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment has observed, "Mr. Bingham's speech in defense and advocacy of his amendment comprehends practically everything that was said in the press or on the floor of the House in favor of the resolution ...." Kendrick, Journal of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction (1914) 217. A reading of the debates indicates that no member except Mr. Hale had contradicted Mr. Bingham's argument that without this Amendment the states had power to deprive persons of the rights guaranteed by the first eight amendments. Mr. Hale had conceded that he did not "know of a case where it has ever been decided that the United States Constitution is sufficient for the protection of the liberties of the citizen." Cong.Globe, supra, at 1064. But he was apparently unaware of the decision of this Court in Barron v. Baltimore, supra. For he thought that the protections of the Bill of Rights had already been "thrown over us in some way, whether with or without the sanction of a judicial decision ..." And in any event, he insisted, "... the American people have not yet found that their State governments are insufficient to protect the rights and liberties of the citizen." He further objected, as had most of the other opponents to the proposal, that the Amendment authorized the Congress to "arrogate" to itself vast powers over all kinds of affairs which should properly be left to the States. Cong.Globe, supra, 1064, 1065.

When Mr. Hotchkiss suggested that the amendment should be couched in terms of a prohibition against the States in addition to authorizing Congress to legislate (p.99)against state deprivations of privileges and immunities, debate on the amendment was postponed until April 2, 1866. Cong.Globe, supra, 1095.


Important events which apparently affected the evolution of the Fourteenth Amendment transpired during the period during which discussion of it was postponed. The Freedman's Bureau Bill which made deprivation of certain civil rights of negroes an offense punishable by military tribunals had been passed. It applied, not to the entire country, but only to the South. On February 19, 1866, President Johnson had vetoed the bill principally on the ground that it was unconstitutional. Cong.Globe, supra, 915. Forthwith, a companion proposal known as the Civil Rights Bill empowering federal courts to punish those who deprived any person anywhere in the country of certain defined civil rights was pressed to passage. Senator Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who offered the bill in the Senate on behalf of that Committee, had stated that "the late slaveholding States" had enacted laws "... depriving persons of African descent of privileges which are essential to freemen ... (S)tatutes of Mississippi ... provide that if any person of African descent residing in that State travels from one county to another without having a pass or a certificate of his freedom, he is liable to be committed to jail and to be dealt with as a person who is in the State without authority. Other provisions of the statute prohibit any negro or mulatto from having fire-arms; and one provision of the statute declares that for 'exercising the functions of a minister of the Gospel free negroes ... on conviction, may be punished by ... lashes....' Other provisions ... prohibit a free negro ... from keeping a house of entertainment, and subject him to trial before two justices of the peace and five slaveholders for (p.100)violating ... this law. The statutes of South Carolina make it a highly penal offense for any person, white or colored, to teach slaves; and similar provisions are to be found running through all the statutes of the late slaveholding States.... The purpose of the bill ... is to destroy all these discriminations...." Cong.Globe, supra, 474.

In the House, after Mr. Bingham's original proposal for a constitutional amendment had been rejected, the suggestion was also advanced that the bill secured for all "the right to speech, ... transit, ... domicil, ... the right to sue, the writ of habeas corpus, and the right of petition." Cong. Globe, supra, 1263. And an opponent of the measure, Mr. Raymond, conceded that it would guarantee to the negro "the right of free passage ... He has a defined status ... a right to defend himself ... to bear arms ... to testify in the Federal courts...." Cong. Globe, supra, 1266, 1267. But opponents took the position that without a constitutional amendment such as that proposed by Mr. Bingham, the Civil Rights Bill would be unconstitutional. Cong. Globe, supra, 1154, 1155, 1263.

Mr. Bingham himself vigorously opposed and voted against the Bill. His objection was two fold: First, insofar as it extended the protections of the Bill of Rights as against state invasion, he believed the measure to be unconstitutional because of the Supreme Court's holding in Barron v. Baltimore, supra. While favoring the extension of the Bill of Rights guarantees as against state invasion, he thought this could be done only by passage of his amendment. His second objection to the Bill was that in his view it would go beyond his objective of making the states observe the Bill of Rights and would actually strip the states of power to govern, centralizing all power in the Federal Government. To this he was opposed. His views are in part reflected by his own remarks and the answers to him by Mr. Wilson. Mr. Bingham said, in part:(p.101)

"... I do not oppose any legislation which is authorized by the Constitution of my country to enforce in its letter and its spirit the bill of rights as embodied in that Constitution. I know that the enforcement of the bill of rights is the want of the Republic. I know if it had been enforced in good faith in every State of the Union the calamities and conflicts and crimes and sacrifices of the past five years would have been impossible.

"But I feel that I am justified in saying, in view of the text of the Constitution of my country, in view of all its past interpretations, in view of the manifest and declared intent of the men who framed it, the enforcement of the Bill of Rights, touching the life, liberty, and property of every citizen of the Republic within every organized State of the Union, is of the reserve powers of the States to be enforced by State tribunals....

"... I am with him in an earnest desire to have the bill of rights in your Constitution enforced everywhere. But I ask that it be enforced in accordance with the Constitution of my country.


"... I submit that the term 'civil rights' includes every right that pertains to the citizen under the Constitution, laws, the Government of this country....


"... The law in every State should be just; it should be no respecter of persons. It is otherwise now, and it has been otherwise for many years in many of the States of the Union. I should remedy that not by an arbitrary assumption of power, but by amending the Constitution of the United States, expressly prohibiting the States from any such abuse of power in the future...."


"If the bill of rights, as has been solemnly ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States, does not limit the powers of the States and prohibit such gross injustice by (p.102)States, it does limit the power of Congress to prohibit any such legislation by Congress.


"... [T]he care of the property, the liberty, and the life of the citizen, under the solemn sanction of an oath imposed by your Federal Constitution, is in the States, and not in the Federal Government. I have sought to effect no change in that respect in the Constitution of the country. I have advocated here an amendment which would arm Congress with the power to compel obedience to the oath, and punish all violations by State officers of the bill of rights, but leaving those officers to discharge the duties enjoined upon them as citizens of the United States by that oath and by that Constitution. ..." Cong. Globe, supra, 1291, 1292.

Mr. Wilson, House sponsor of the Civil Rights Bill, answered Mr. Bingham's objections to it with these remarks:

"The gentleman from Ohio tells the House that civil rights involve all the rights that citizens have under the Government; that in the term are embraced those rights which belong to the citizen of the United States as such, and those which belong to a citizen of a State as such; and that this bill is not intended merely to enforce equality of rights, so far as they relate to citizens of the United States but invades the States to enforce equality of rights in respect to those things which properly and rightfully depend on State regulations and laws....

"... I find in the bill of rights which the gentleman desires to have enforced by an amendment to the Constitution that 'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.' I understand that these constitute the civil rights belonging to the citizens in connection with those which are necessary for the protection and maintenance and perfect enjoyment of the rights thus specifically named, and these are the rights to (p.103)which this bill relates, having nothing to do with subjects submitted to the control of the several States." Cong. Globe, supra at 1294.

In vetoing the Civil Rights Bill, President Johnson said among other things that the bill was unconstitutional for many of the same reasons advanced by Mr. Bingham:

"Hitherto every subject embraced in the enumeration of rights contained in this bill has been considered as exclusively belonging to the States.... As respects the Territories, they come within the power of Congress, for as to them, the lawmaking power is the federal power; but as to the States no similar provisions exist, vesting in Congress the power 'to make rules and regulations' for them." Cong. Globe, supra, 1679, 1680.

The bill, however, was passed over President Johnson's veto and in spite of the constitutional objections of Bingham and others. Cong. Globe, supra, 1809, 1861.


Thereafter the scene changed back to the Committee on Reconstruction. There Mr. Stevens had proposed an amendment, § 1 of which provided "No discrimination shall be made by any State, nor by the United States, as to the civil rights of persons because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Journal 28. Mr. Bingham proposed an additional section providing that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Journal 30. After the Committee had twice declined to recommend Mr. Bingham's proposal, on April 28 it was accepted by the Committee, substantially in the form he had proposed it, as § 1 of the recommended Amendment. Journal 44.(p.104)


In introducing the proposed Amendment to the House on May 8, 1866, Mr. Stevens speaking for the Committee said:

"The first section [of the proposed amendment] prohibits the States from abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, or unlawfully depriving them of life, liberty, or property, or of denying to any person within their jurisdiction the "equal" protection of the laws.

"I can hardly believe that any person can be found who will not admit that every one of these provisions is just. They are all asserted, in some form or other, in our Declaration or organic law. But the Constitution limits only the action of Congress, and is not a limitation on the States. This amendment supplies that defect, and allows Congress to correct the unjust legislation of the States, so far that the law which operates upon one man shall operate equally upon all." Cong. Globe, 2459.[104.2]

On May 23, 1866, Senator Howard introduced the proposed amendment to the Senate in the absence of Senator Fessenden who was sick. Senator Howard prefaced his remarks by stating:

"I ... present to the Senate ... the views and the motives [of the Reconstruction Committee].... One result of their investigation has been the joint resolution for the amendment of the Constitution of the United States now under consideration....

"The first section of the amendment ... submitted for the consideration of the two Houses, relates to the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States, (p.105)and to the rights and privileges of all persons, whether citizens or others, under the laws of the United States....

"It will be observed that this is a general prohibition upon all the States, as such, from abridging the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States. That is its first clause, and I regard it as very important. It also prohibits each one of the States from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within the jurisdiction of the State the equal protection of its laws.


"It would be a curious question to solve what are the privileges and immunities of citizens of each of the States in the several States.... I am not aware that the Supreme Court have ever undertaken to define either the nature or extent of the privileges and immunities thus guarantied.... But we may gather some intimation of what probably will be the opinion of the judiciary by referring to ... Corfield v. Coryell ... 4 Washington's Circuit Court Reports, page 380. [Here Senator Howard quoted at length from that opinion.]

"Such is the character of the privileges and immunities spoken of in the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution. To these privileges and immunities, whatever they may be--for they are not and cannot be fully defined in their entire extent and precise nature--to these should be added the personal rights guarantied and secured by the first eight amendments of the Constitution; such as the freedom of speech and of the press; the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, a right appertaining to each and all the people; the right to keep and to bear arms; the right to be exempted from the quartering of soldiers in a house without the consent of the owner; (p.106)the right to be exempt from unreasonable searches and seizures, and from any search or seizure except by virtue of a warrant issued upon a formal oath or affidavit; the right of an accused person to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him, and his right to be tried by an impartial jury of the vicinage; and also the right to be secure against excessive bail and against cruel and unusual punishments.

"Now, sir, here is a mass of privileges, immunities, and rights, some of them secured by the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which I have recited, some by the first eight amendments of the Constitution; and it is a fact well worthy of attention that the course of decision of our courts and the present settled doctrine is, that all these immunities, privileges, rights, thus guarantied by the Constitution, or recognized by it, are secured to the citizens solely as a citizen of the United States and as a party in their courts. They do not operate in the slightest degree as a restraint or a prohibition upon state legislation. States are not affected by them, and it has been repeatedly held that the restriction contained in the Constitution against the taking of private property for public use without just compensation is not a restriction upon State legislation, but applies only to the legislation of Congress.

"Now, sir, there is no power given in the Constitution to enforce and to carry out any of these guarantees. They are not powers granted by the Constitution to Congress, and of course do not come within the sweeping clause of the Constitution authorizing Congress to pass all laws necessary and proper for carrying out the foregoing or granted powers, but they stand simply as a bill of rights in the Constitution, without power on the part of Congress to give them full effect; while at the same time the States are not restrained from violating the principles embraced in them except by their own local constitutions, (p.107)which may be altered from year to year. The great object of the first section of this amendment is, therefore, to restrain the power of the States any compel them at all times to respect these great fundamental guarantees." Cong. Globe, supra, 2764.

Mr. Bingham had closed the debate in the House on the proposal prior to its consideration by the Senate. He said in part:

"... [M]any instances of State injustice and oppression have already occurred in the State legislation of this Union, of flagrant violations of the guarantied privileges of citizens of the United States, for which the national Government furnished and could furnish by law no remedy whatever. Contrary to the express letter of your Constitution, 'cruel and unusual punishments' have been inflicted under State laws within this Union upon citizens, not only for crimes committed, but for sacred duty done, for which and against which the Government of the United States had provided no remedy and could provide none.


"It was an approbrium to the Republic that for fidelity to the United States they could not by national law be protected against the degrading punishment inflicted on slaves and felons by State law. That great want of the citizen and stranger, protection by national law from unconstitutional State enactments, is supplied by the first section of this amendment." Cong. Globe, supra, 2542, 2543.

Both proponents and opponents of § 1 of the amendment spoke of its relation to the Civil Rights Bill which had been previously passed over the President's veto. Some considered that the amendment settled any doubts there might be as to the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Bill. Cong. Globe, 2511, 2896. Others maintained that the Civil Rights Bill would be unconstitutional (p.108)unless and until the amendment was adopted. Cong. Globe, 2461, 2502, 2506, 2513, 2961, 2513. Some thought that amendment was nothing but the Civil Rights "in another shape." Cong. Globe, 2459, 2462, 2465, 2467, 2498, 2502. One attitude of the opponents was epitomized by a statement by Mr. Shanklin that the amendment strikes "down the reserved rights of the States, ... declared by the framers of the Constitution to belong to the States exclusively and necessary for the protection of the property and liberty of the people. The first section of this proposed amendment ... is to strike down those State rights and invest all power in General Government." Cong. Globe, supra, 2500. See also Cong. Globe, supra, 2530, 2538.

Except for the addition of the first sentence of § 1 which defined citizenship, Cong. Globe, supra 2869, the amendment weathered the Senate debate without substantial change. It is significant that several references were made in the Senate debate to Mr. Bingham's great responsibility for § 1 of the amendment as passed by the House. See e.g., Cong. Globe, supra, 2896.


Also just prior to the final votes in both Houses passing the resolution of adoption, the Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, H.R. Rep. No. 30, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1866); Sen. Rep. No. 112, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1866), was submitted. Cong.Globe, supra, 3038, 3051. This report was apparently not distributed in time to influence the debates in Congress. But a student of the period reports that 150,000 copies of the Report and the testimony which it contained were printed in order that senators and representatives might distribute them among their constituents. Apparently the Report was widely reprinted in the press and used as a campaign document (p.109)in the election of 1866. Kendrick, Journal of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction (1914) 265. According to Kendrick the Report was "eagerly ... perused" for information concerning "conditions in the South." Kendrick, supra, 265.

The Report of the Committee had said with reference to the necessity of amending the Constitution:

"... [T]he so-called Confederate States are not, at present, entitled to representation in the Congress of the United States; that, before allowing such representation, adequate security for future peace and safety should be required; that this can only be found in such changes of the organic law as shall determine the civil rights and privileges of all citizens in all parts of the republic....' Report, supra, XXI.

Among the examples recited by the testimony were discrimination against negro churches and preachers by local officials and criminal punishment of those who attended objectionable church services. Report, Part II, 52. Testimony also cited recently enacted Louisiana laws which made it "a highly penal offense for anyone to do anything that might be construed into encouraging the blacks to leave the persons with whom they had made contracts for labor ...." Report, Part III, p. 25.[109.3]

Flack, supra at 142, who canvassed newspaper coverage and speeches concerning the popular discussion of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, indicates that (p.110)Senator Howard's speech stating that one of the purposes of the first section was to give Congress power to enforce the Bill of Rights as well as extracts and digests of other speeches were published widely in the press. Flack summarizes his observation that

"The declarations and statements of newspapers, writers and speakers, ... show very clearly, ... the general opinion held in the North. That opinion, briefly stated, was that the Amendment embodied the Civil Rights Bill and gave Congress the power to define and secure the privileges of citizens of the United States. There does not seem to have been any statement at all as to whether the first eight Amendments were to be made applicable to the States or not, whether the privileges guaranteed by those Amendments were to be considered as privileges secured by the Amendment, but it may be inferred that this was recognized to be the logical result by those who thought that the freedom of speech and of the press as well as due process of law, including a jury trial, were secured by it." Flack, supra, 153, 154.


Formal statements subsequent to adoption of the Amendment by the congressional leaders who particiated in the drafting and enactment of it are significant. In 1871 a bill was before the House which contemplated enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment. Mr. Garfield, who had participated in the debates on the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866 said:

"I now come to consider ... for it is the basis of the pending bill, the fourteenth amendment. I ask the attention of the House to the first section of that amendment, as to its scope and meaning. I hope gentlemen will bear in mind that this debate, in which so many have taken part, will become historical, as the earliest legislative construction (p.111)given to this clause of the amendment. Not only the words which we put into the law, but what shall be said here in the way of defining and interpreting the meaning of the clause, may go far to settle its interpretation and its value to the country hereafter." Cong. Globe, 42d Cong., 1st Sess. (1871) App. 150.

"The next clause of the section under debate declares: 'Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'

"This is copied from the fifth article of amendments, with this difference: as it stood in the fifth article it operated only as a restraint upon Congress, while here it is a direct restraint upon the governments of the States. The addition is very valuable. It realizes the full force and effect of the clause in Magna Charta, from which it was borrowed; and there is now no power in either the State or the national Government to deprive any person of those great fundamental rights on which all true freedom rests, the rights of life, liberty, and property, except by due process of law; that is, by an impartial trial according to the laws of the land...." Cong. Globe, supra, at 152, 153.

A few days earlier, in a debate on this same bill to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment, Mr. Bingham, still a member of Congress, had stated at length his understanding of the purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment as he had originally conceived it:

"Mr. Speaker, the Honorable Gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Farnsworth] did me unwittingly, great service, when he ventured to ask me why I changed the form of the first section of the fourteenth article of amendment from the form in which I reported it to the House in February, 1866, from the Committee on Reconstruction. I will answer the gentleman, sir, and answer him truthfully. I had the honor to frame the amendment as reported in February, 1866, and the first section, as it now (p.112)stands, letter for letter, and syllable for syllable, in the fourteenth article of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States, save the introductory clause defining citizens. The clause defining citizens never came from the joint Committee on Reconstruction, but the residue of the first section of the fourteenth amendment did come from the committee precisely as I wrote it and offered it in the Committee on Reconstruction, and precisely as it now stands in the Constitution....

"That is the grant of power. It is full and complete. The gentleman says that amendment differs from the amendment reported by me in February; differs from the provision introduced and written by me, now in the fourteenth article of amendments. It differs in this: that it is now, as it now stands in the Constitution, more comprehensive than as it was first proposed and reported in February, 1866. It embraces all and more than did the February proposition.

"The gentleman ventured upon saying that this amendment does not embrace all of the amendment prepared and reported by me with the consent of the committee in February, 1866. The amendment reported in February, to which the gentleman refers, is as follows: 'The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to secure to the citizens of each State all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States, and to all persons in the several States equal protection in the rights of life, liberty, and property.'

"That is the amendment, and the whole of it, as reported in February, 1866. That amendment never was rejected by the House or Senate. A motion was made to lay it on the table, which was a test vote on the merits of it, and the motion failed.... I consented to and voted for the motion to postpone it.... Afterward in the joint (p.113)Committee on Reconstruction, I introduced this amendment, in the precise form, as I have stated, in which it was reported, and as it now stands in the Constitution of my country....

"I answer the gentleman, how I came to change the form of February to the words now in the first section of the fourteenth article of amendments, as they stand, and I trust will forever stand, in the Constitution of my country. I had read--and that is what induced me to attempt to impose by constitutional amendments new limitations upon the power of the States--the great decision of Marshall in Barron v. The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, wherein the Chief Justice said, in obedience to his official oath and the Constitution as it then was: 'The amendments [to the Constitution] contained no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them.'--7 Peters p. 250.

"In this case the city had taken private property for public use, without compensation as alleged, and there was no redress for the wrong in the Supreme Court of the United States; and only for this reason, the first eight amendments were not limitations on the power of the States.

"And so afterward, in the case of the Lessee of Livingstone v. Moore ... the court ruled, 'It is now settled that the amendments [to the Constitution] do not extend to the States.' They were but limitations upon Congress. Jefferson well said of the first eight articles of amendments to the Constitution of the United States, they constitute the American Bill of Rights. Those amendments secured the citizens against any deprivation of any essential rights of person by any act of Congress, and among other things thereby they were secured (p.114)in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, in the inviolability of their homes in times of peace, by declaring that no soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner. They secured trial by jury; they secured the right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation which might in any case be made against them; they secured compulsory process for witnesses and to be heard in defense by counsel. They secured, in short, all the rights dear to the American citizen. And yet it was decided, and rightfully, that these amendments defining and protecting the rights of men and citizens were only limitations on the power of Congress, not on the power of the States.

"In reexamining that case of Barron, Mr. Speaker, after my struggle in the House in February 1866 to which the gentleman has alluded, I noted and apprehended as I never did before, certain words in that opinion of Marshall. Referring to the first eight articles of amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Chief Justice said: 'Had the framers of these amendments intended them to be limitations on the power of the State governments they would have imitated the framers of the original Constitution, and have expressed that intention." Barron v. The Mayor, &c., 7 Peters, 250.

"Acting upon this suggestion I did imitate the framers of the original Constitution. As they had said 'No state shall emit bills of credit, pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligations of contracts;' imitating their example and imitating it to the letter, I prepared the provision of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment as it stands in the Constitution, as follows: 'No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person, of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, (p.115)nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

"I hope the gentleman now knows why I changed the form of the amendment of February, 1866.

"Mr. Speaker, that the scope and meaning of the limitations imposed by the first section, fourteenth amendment of the Constitution may be more fully understood, permit me to say that the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, as contradistinguished from citizens of a State, are chiefly defined in the first eight amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Those eight amendments are as follows: [Here Mr. Bingham recited verbatim the first eight articles.]

"These eight articles I have shown never were limitations upon the power of the States, until made so by the fourteenth amendment. The words of that amendment, 'no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States,' are an express prohibition upon every State of the Union, which may be enforced under existing laws of Congress, and such other laws for their better enforcement as Congress may make.

"Mr. Speaker, that decision in the fourth of Washington's Circuit Court Reports, to which my learned colleague ... has referred is only a construction of the second section, fourth article of the original Constitution, to wit, 'The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.' In that case the court only held that in civil rights the State could not refuse to extend to citizens of other States the same general rights secured to its own.

"In the case of the United States v. Primrose, Mr. Webster said that--'For the purposes of trade, it is evidently not in the power of any State to impose any hindrance or embarrassment, &c., upon citizens of other States, or to place them, on coming there, upon a different (p.116)footing from her own citizens.'--6 Webster's Works, 112.

"The learned Justice Story declared that--'The intention of the clause ["The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States"] was to confer on the citizens of each State a general citizenship, and communicated all the privileges and immunities which a citizen of the same State would be entitled to under the same circumstances.'--Story on The Constitution, vol. 2, page 605.

"Is it not clear that other and different privileges and immunities than those to which a citizen of a State was entitled are secured by the provisions of the fourteenth article, that no State shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, which are defined in the eight articles of amendment, and which were not limitations on the power of the States before the fourteenth amendment made them limitations?

"Sir, before the ratification of the fourteenth amendment, the State could deny to any citizen the right of trial by jury, and it was done. Before that the State could abridge the freedom of the press, and it was so done in half the States of the Union. Before that a State, as in the case of the State of Illinois, could make it a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment for any citizen within her limits, in obedience to the injunction of our divine Master, to help a slave who was ready to perish; to give him shelter, or break with him his crust of bread. The validity of that State restriction upon the rights of conscience and the duty of life was affirmed, to the shame and disgrace of America, in the Supreme Court of the United States; but nevertheless affirmed in obedience to the requirements of the Constitution....

"Under the Constitution as it is, not as it was, and by force of the fourteenth amendment, no State hereafter (p.117)can imitate the bad example of Illinois, to which I have referred, nor can any State ever repeat the example of Georia and send men to the penitentiary, as did that State, for teaching the Indian to read the lesson of the New Testament, to know that new evangel, 'The pure in heart shall see God.'


"... You say it is centralized power to restrain by law unlawful combinations in States against the Constitution and citizens of the United States, to enforce the Constitution and the rights of United States citizen [sic.] by national law, and to disperse by force, if need be, combinations too powerful to be overcome by judicial process, engaged in trampling underfoot the life and liberty, or destroying the property of the citizen.


"The States never had the right, though they had the power, to inflict wrongs upon free citizens by denial of the full protection of the laws; because all State officials are by the Constitution required to be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution. As I have already said, the States, did deny to citizens the equal protection of the laws, they did deny the rights of citizens under the Constitution, and except to the extent of the express limitations upon the States, as I have shown, the citizen had no remedy. They denied trial by jury, and he had no remedy. They took property without compensation, and he had no remedy. They restricted the freedom of the press, and he had no remedy. They restricted the freedom of speech, and he had no remedy. They restricted the rights of conscience, and he had no remedy. They bought and sold men who had no remedy. Who dare say, now that the Constitution has been amended, that the nation cannot by law provide against all such abuses and denials (p.118)of right as these in States and by States, or combinations of persons?


"Mr. Speaker, I respectfully submit to the House and country that, by virtue of these amendments, it is competent for Congress today to provide by law that no man shall be held to answer in the tribunals of any State in this Union for any act made criminal by the laws of that state without a fair and impartial trial by jury. Congress never before has had the power to do it. It is also competent for Congress to provide that no citizen in any State shall be deprived of its property by State law or the judgment of a State court without just compensation therefor. Congress never before had the power so to declare. It is competent for the Congress of the United States to-day to declare that no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble together and petition for redress of grievances. For these are of the rights of citizens of the United States defined in the Constitution and guarantied by the fourteenth amendment, and to enforce which Congress is thereby expressly empowered. ..." Cong.Globe, 1st Sess., 42d Cong. (1871) App. 81, 83-85.

And the day after Mr. Garfield's address, Mr. Dawes, also a member of the 39th Congress, stated his understanding of the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment:

"Sir, in the progress of constitutional liberty, when, in addition to those privileges and immunities [secured by the original Constitution], there were added from time to time, by amendments, others, and these were augmented, amplified, and secured and fortified in the buttresses of the Constitution itself, he hardly comprehended the full scope and measure of the phrase which appears in this bill. Let me read, one by one, these (p.119)amendments, and ask the House to tell me when and where and by what chosen phrase has man been able to bring before the Congress of the country a broader sweep of legislation than my friend has in the bill here. In addition to the original rights secured to him in the first article of amendments, he had secured the free exercise of his religious belief, and freedom of speech and the press. Then he had secured to him the right to keep and bear arms in his defense. Then, after that, his home was secured in time of peace from the presence of a soldier; and, still further, sir, his house, his papers, and his effects were protected against unreasonable seizure....

"Then, again, as if that were not enough, by another amendment he was secured against trial for any alleged offense except it be on the presentation of a grand jury, and he was protected against ever giving testimony against himself. [Italics supplied.] Then, sir, he was guarantied a speedy trial, and the right to confront every witness against him. Then in every controversy which should arise he had the right to have it decided by a jury of his peers. Then, sir, by another amendment, he was never to be required to give excessive bail, or be punished by cruel and unusual punishment. And still later, sir, after the bloody sacrifice of our four years' war, we gave the most grand of all these rights, privileges, and immunities, by one single amendment to the Constitution, to four millions of American citizens who sprang into being, as it were, by the wave of a magic wand. Still further, every person born on the soil was made a citizen and clothed with them all.

"It is all these, Mr. Speaker, which are comprehended in the words 'American citizen,' and it is to protect and to secure him in these rights, privileges, and immunities this bill is before the House. And the question to be settled is, whether by the Constitution, in which these provisions are (p.120)inserted, there is also power to guard, protect, and enforce these rights of the citizens; whether they are more, indeed, than a mere declaration of rights, carrying with it no power of enforcement...." Cong.Globe, 42d Cong., 1st Sess. Part I (1871) 475, 476.


Hereafter appear statements in opinions of this Court rendered after adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment and prior to the Twining case which indicate a belief that the Fourteenth Amendment, and particularly its privileges and immunities clause, was plain application of the Bill of Rights to the states. See p. 75, note 6, supra.

In the Slaughter-House cases, 16 Wall. 36, 83, the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Field emphasized that the Fourteenth Amendment made a "citizen of a State ... a citizen of the United States residing in that State." Id. at 95. But he enunciated a relatively limited number of privileges and immunities which he considered protected by national power from state interference by the Fourteenth Amendment. Apparently dissatisfied with the limited interpretation of Mr. Justice Field, Mr. Justice Bradley, although agreeing with all that Mr. Justice Field had said, wrote an additional dissent. Id. at 111. In it he said:

"But we are not bound to resort to implication, or to the constitutional history of England, to find an authoritative declaration of some of the most important privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States. It is in the Constitution itself. The Constitution, it is true, as it stood prior to the recent amendments, specifies, in terms, only a few of the personal privileges and immunities of citizens, but they are very comprehensive in their character. The States were merely prohibited from passing bills of (p.121)attainder, ex post facto laws, laws impairing the obligation of contracts, and perhaps one or two more. But others of the greatest consequence were enumerated, although they were only secured, in express terms, from invasion by the Federal Government; such as the right of habeas corpus, the right of trial by jury, of free exercise of religious worship, the right of free speech and a free press, the right peaceably to assemble for the discussion of public measures, the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, and above all, and including almost all the rest, the right of not being deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. These, and still others are specified in the original Constitution, or in the early amendments of it, as among the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, or, what is still stronger for the force of the argument, the rights of all persons, whether citizens or not." Id. at 118-119; see also id. at pages 120-122.

Mr. Justice Swayne joined in this opinion but added his own not inconsistent views. Id. at 124.

But in Walker v. Sauvinet, 92 U.S. 90, 92, when a majority of the Court held that "A trial by jury in suits at common law pending in the State courts is not ... a privilege or immunity of national citizenship, which the States are forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment to abridge," Mr. Justice Field and Mr. Justice Clifford dissented from "the opinion and judgment of the Court." Id. at 93.

In Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, counsel for the petitioners, Mr. J. Randolph Tucker, after enumerating the protections of the Bill of Rights, took this position:

"... Though originally the first ten Amendments were adopted as limitations on Federal power, yet in so far as they secure and recognize fundamental (p.122)rights--common law rights--of the man, they make them privileges and immunities of the man as citizen of the United States, and cannot now be abridged by a State under the Fourteenth Amendment. In other words, while the ten Amendments, as limitations on power, only apply to the Federal government, and not to the States, yet in so far as they declare or recognize rights of persons, these rights are theirs, as citizens of the United States, and the Fourteenth Amendment as to such rights limits state power, as the ten Amendments had limited Federal power.


"... the rights declared in the first ten Amendments are to be regarded as privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, which, as I insist, are protected as such by the Fourteenth Amendment." Id. at 151, 152.

The constitutional issues raised by this argument were not reached by the Court which disposed of the case on jurisdictional grounds.

However, Mr. Justice Field in his dissenting opinion in O'Neil v. Vermont, 144 U.S. 323, 337, 361, stated that "after much reflection" he had become persuaded that the definition of privileges and immunities given by Mr. Tucker in Spies v. Illinois, supra, "is correct." And Mr. Justice Field went on to say that

"While, therefore, the ten Amendments as limitations on power, and, so far as they accomplish their purpose and find their fruition in such limitations, are applicable only to the Federal government and not to the states, yet, so far as they declare or recognize the rights of persons they are rights belonging to them as citizens of the United States under the Constitution; and the Fourteenth Amendment, as [paragraph continues next page]

[Return to pages 46-58 (Majority opinion).
Return to pages 59-67 (Frankfurter, concurrence).
Return to pages 68-77 (Black, dissent).
Return to pages 78 (Black, dissent cont.).
Return to pages 79-91 (Black, dissent cont.).
Currently at pages 92-122 (Black, Appendix).
Proceed to pages 123-125 (Murphy, dissent).]

[93.1] Mr. Bingham and Mr. Stevens had introduced these same proposed amendments in the House prior to the establishment of the Reconstruction Committee. Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1865) 10, 14.

[104.2] It has been said of Stevens' statement: "He evidently had reference to the Bill of Rights, for it is in it that most of the privileges are enumerated, and besides it was not applicable to the States." Flack, The Adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment (1908) 75.

[109.3] In a widely publicized report to the President which was also submitted to the Congress, Carl Schurz had reviewed similar incidents and emphasized the fact that negroes had been denied the right to bear arms, own property, engage in business, to testify in Court, and that local authorities had arrested them without cause and tried them without juries. Sen. Exec. Doc. No. 2, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1865) 23, 24, 26, 36. See also Report of Commissioner of Freedman's Bureau, Exec. Doc. No. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1866) 41, 47, 48, 233, 236, 265, 376.