Many prominent Ohioans have helped shape the foundation of the United States. You may not know that an Ohio congressman was the main writer of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
John Bingham, a prominent lawyer, judge, and Ohio congressman served as a judge advocate in the Abraham Lincoln assassination trial and as a prosecutor in Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trials. He died in Cadiz, Ohio in 1900.
Although the Fourteenth Amendment has five separate sections, the words most often quoted come from section one:
“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.”
This language has been interpreted many times by the U. S. Supreme Court in landmark cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade. And recently in Obergefell v. Hodges, the court relied on the amendment in a 5-4 decision that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry.
The Fourteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 9, 1868. The words that John Bingham helped write have great vitality, living on nearly 150 years later.