IJ Symposium on the 14th Amendment Calls for Judicial Engagement

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment, a post-Civil War amendment so important that it’s often referred to as part of America’s “Second Founding.” Indeed, because it applied constitutional protections against the states, it’s an amendment that’s at the heart of almost all of the Institute for Justice’s litigation against state and local governments.

For that reason, IJ’s Center for Judicial Engagement celebrated the amendment’s anniversary in September by hosting a symposium about it with the Liberty & Law Center at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

We gathered judges, practitioners, and legal scholars to discuss the amendment’s history and its application by the courts. In addition to generating new scholarship that will inform our litigation, the symposium highlighted the problems caused when the enforcement of rights protected by the 14th Amendment—especially economic liberty and property rights—gives way to judicial abdication.

The symposium concluded with a discussion of the 14th Amendment’s future in the courts. For IJ, that future is now: Timbs v. Indiana, our case about the Constitution’s protection against excessive government fines, fees, and forfeitures discussed on page 5, is the most significant 14th Amendment case on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket. And beyond Timbs, the 14th Amendment will continue to be at the center of IJ’s mission to protect individual liberty.

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