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The Fourteenth Amendment

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During the historical Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the Fourteenth Amendment was, debatably, the most important document of the future; furthermore, it is logical to conclude that however it was initially interpreted would have a considerable impact on the decades to follow. Thus, the Supreme Court's’ initial rulings- on the Slaughterhouse Cases and Bradwell v. Illinois- regarding how the Fourteenth Amendment protected the legal rights of all citizens practically diminished the Fourteenth Amendment to merely a piece of paper; the Supreme Court justices, who opposed the Fourteenth Amendment, used their power to to purposely misconstrue the meaning behind the dual citizenship clause- All persons born or naturalized in the United States are…show more content…
For example, in Ritchie v. People (1895), the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the eight-hour provision from the Law of 1893, because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving women of freedom of contract, which is derived from the due process clause (A14.1). The decision rooted from the larger political battle occuring at the time- most wealthy businesses and political leaders did not support protective laws - which led to a display of false paternity/equality by the justices. In dismay, Florence Kelley rejected that the Fourteenth Amendment could be used in such a manner, and said, “The measure to guarantee the Negro freedom from oppression has become an insuperable obstacle to the protection of women and children” (W15). In the campaign for protective rights for laborers, the ruling from Ritchie v. People marked a defeat, but not an end. In 1908, Kelley, and the NCL, sought redemption through the case of Muller v. Oregon (case description), and picked an attorney, Louis Brandeis, who “seemed like a champion to fight her battle in court” (W26). Now, Brandeis presented his famous brief to the court, which depicted all women as potential mothers who were vulnerable to long work hours. Ultimately, Justice Brewer empathized with the ‘facts’ of women’s frugality presented by Brandeis, and ruled in favor of the protective law. Thus, the Fourteenth Amendment’s inferred liberty of contract was introduced, legally, to the protective rights of laborers and women. At last, the labor reformist victory in Muller v. Oregon marked a national triumph: between 1908 and 1917, nineteen states and the District of Columbia enacted woman's hour laws, and twenty states that already had such
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