The 14th Amendment: The Most Evolving Document in America.
The 14th amendment has changed so much since its ratification, but laws are a process.
The 14th amendment to the constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868. It was an influential law that abridges states from making laws to strip “the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” and nor “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Now, given that this law was written broadly was originally designed to denounce the racial disparages that were common in the united states. Even though this might have been the original intent of the author fifty years after the 14th amendment was ratified, the amendment has been interpreted in many different ways and many in different situations; it's been cited in business “personhood” in (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co). The personal rights of racial minorities, in (Plessy v. Ferguson), the right to contract (Lochner v. New York), and the monopoly power to help public health. (The slaughterhouse cases). These different interpretations paved the way for what someone would call an equal society, business, and personal freedom.
The Slaughterhouse Cases was one of the first influential cases that when in the 1800s the regulation of butchers was overly nonexistent in Louisiana until the state created a monopoly on stockyards and slaughterhouses through the crescent city slaughterhouse company where the state gave this company the sole power to create, run, and lease slaughterhouses around New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. This caused local butchers to solely lease or rent through the company if they want to work in that field. A collection of butchers known as the butcher's benevolence association sued the state, claiming it violated the 13th and 14th Amendments. They lost the trial and state supreme courts, then went to the supreme court. The supreme court ruled again in favor of the state, stating that this was not a violation of the 13th or 14th Amendments stating that both amendments do not grant a US citizen the right to a chosen occupation and are only really referred to the servitude of African Americans; and “the privileges or immunities” clause of 14th Amendment does not trump over the right of the public good.
Another case that has had a great influence on the interpretation of the 14th Amendment was (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co.) is a case where the county of Santa Clara, a county in California, was unduly taxing the railroad companies for their fences, they claim their fence as equal property to the train rails. The companies argued that their state constitution only allowed the state to only tax other property, not fences. They also stated the state taxed the fences but neglected their mortgages, so they didn't accurately assess their overall financial statement, causing the companies to pay way more in tax than the law stated. So the companies refused to pay the tax. The state, after several battles in court, sent the case to the supreme court. The supreme court declared that the state arbitrary taxed the land and didn't correctly assess it. The court also declared indirectly that the corporation had personhood under the 14th Amendment, which is now why we have corporations with the same rights as citizens.
Furthermore, to drive the point that the change of the 14th Amendment was so broad, it takes Plessy v. Ferguson's case. Homer Plessy was a biracial man who was Caucasian and a small percentage of African-American who try to board a white only train car until a train company told him to move to a “colored coach.” Still, he refused, and then they kicked him out. Then they had the state jail him. In Louisiana, the state declared railroad cars be “separate but equal” for train coaches; Plessy thought he was considered white because he was seven-eighths white, but the state law said otherwise, and so he appealed the case to the supreme court. The court infamously sided with the state and stated that providing different but equal accommodations to the public was not a violation of the 14th amendment. This would not be the case today, but they decide to interpret this document so oddly.
As the century turns into the 1900s, the supreme court becomes more liberal with the interpretation of the 14th Amendment. in the case of Lochner v. New York. Lochner v. New York (1905) was a supreme court case where Joesph Lochner was indicted for violating a New York that outlaws from a baker to go over the 60 workweeks (Bakeshop Act) because he let an employee do so. The supreme court decided on April 17, 1905, in Lochner’s favor, deciding that “The general right to make a contract in relation to his business is part of the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, and this includes the right to purchase and sell labor” Lochner v. New York (1905) even though the state’s law based on health, There was “no reasonable ground, on the score of health, for interfering with the liberty of the person or the right of free contract,” Lochner v. New York (1905).
In closing, The 14th amendment has gone through a roller coast of a ride since its inception; the interpretations are vast and used in various situations from the rights of corporations in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. A justification for a scarring century of racial codes in Plessy v. Ferguson. The right for a person to work more than anyone should in Lochner v. New York. These four rulings ( including The Slaughterhouse Cases), although some are bad and others good, are necessary for our rights. Personally, I feel you have to bang out the kinks before you can get a decent finished product; I feel this is the only necessary approach to find out how the constitution should manifest in the real world.