by Jon Roland
The Reconstruction Amendments, and in particular, the 14th, were not a “second” constitution. They were a clarification and enhancement of the existing Constitution of 1787. The 14th overturned two erroneous court decisions, Barron v. Baltimore and Dred Scott. The first had sought to avoid allowing slaves to sue for emancipation as a due process violation under the Fifth Amendment, and the second that blacks were not citizens over which the Supreme Court had jurisdiction under Article III.