US Constitution: Isn’t Equality, Opportunity and Justice for ALL a Human Right?

Another Rant by BettyJean Kling

Today I sat and watched the Congress read the Constitution for the very first time! Wow! Can you imagine that?

I have a copy in my purse – I carry it around with me- I love the Constitution with all its original faults such as the Three-Fifths clause, which states slaves are “three fifths of all other persons,” None of these original passages were in the amended version, which avoided the awkward question of who reads what.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, D-Ill., expressed concern about eliminating the reading of the controversial passages, reminding lawmakers of their seriousness and sensitivity to African-Americans.

“Many of us don’t want that to be lost upon reading of our sacred document,”

I agree. We can’t learn from our mistakes unless we look at them. We have been guilty of mistreating both blacks and women and we understand the amendments are there to fix those problems. I eagerly await the one that will fix the one for all of humanity, The Equal Rights Amendment. In my newsletter, I clearly and have always ended it with these words among others: “Achieve Equality, Opportunity and Justice for All – this is a Human Right

Anyway the good old boys won out once again leaving out the controversial language and then adding insult to injury in the reading of the  15th  and 19th amendments as shown below. 

Abolishing slavery was not enough for the blacks – men still needed the right to vote hense the 15th amendment, after the 19th. blacks needed the Civil Rights movement and the ongoing fight for enforcement of enacted legal protections to ensure the right to equality under the law.

Women, however,  were not freed of their oppression, not treated or paid equally, not given the vote for another 80 years and still do not have eqaulity under the law or the US Constitution.

When I heard they would be reading the US Constitution this morning – I was sure to tune in to C-Span. Only in DC could such a simple thing as reading our Constitution be so complicated. First they were late getting started, then they had to argue about how they would read it, then what version? Gimme a break.

Members of the House of Representatives today read the Constitution on the floor of the House chamber, marking a first for Congress. While lawmakers read the amended version to skirt the original’s controversial passages, the reading wasn’t without its own share of controversy.

Then it appeared to me that after many of the congresspersons read their lines they promptly left the room—Did I misread this or did they leave?

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was designated to read the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in the United States and received a standing ovation from the house – I joined in at home rejoicing with him a tear in my eye looking forward to the reading of the 15th which gave black men full citizenship voter rights and looked forward to the 19th  which gave all women full citizenship voting rights.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States.”

May I tell you that many have told me we do not need the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) because the 14th Amendment provides all the protection women need under the law! Firstly the ERA is not just for women is provides for equality for everyone. That means men can’t be discriminated on because of sex as well! As for the 14th , indeed section 1 says that ALL have protection under the law BUT in section 2, blacks and women are clearly referred to as non-voting , non-whole persons and that is why Amendment 15 was needed to give black men the right to vote regardless of their previous state of servitude, and that is also why Amendment 19 was needed to give women the right to have a vote and why I need the ERA:

Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.

2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Now to our deepest and most embarrassing humiliation.

When we got to Amendment 15- NO standing ovationI figured that was because the majority of our citizens still had no vote

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (i.e., slavery).

I eagerly awaited the reading of the 19th and happily they had a women read that and she after she did – —— Nothing! Less than 100 years ago – women did not have the right to vote- we were the majority and yet we did not have the right to vote. When we finally won that right Alice Paul also asked for the Equal rights amendment- and we are still fighting for equality- a human right!

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.

Now more than ever – I demand that we stand and fight for the ERA which states the following:

The Twenty-eighth Amendment (Amendment XXVIII) to the US Constitution should read: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Human Rights should be our first priority!


One Response

  1. RE: 14th Amendment to US Constitution, ERA Inc’s friend National NOW’s misperception that it does provide equal protection to American females. The Equal Rights Alliance Inc’s letter to National NOW follows:

    Happy New Year!

    Dear Terry O’Neil and all Sisters for ERA,

    One of the most widely disseminated and ERA-dissembling errors is that:

    THE 14TH AMENDMENT DOES PROTECT AMERICAN WOMEN/FEMALES. This is untrue and inaccurate. Please correct this major error that undermines one of our top arguments of the states trying desperately to ratify theirs! The national Equal Rights Alliance, based in Florida, recognizes that it is an easy mistake to make. We spend long hours before state legislatures trying to disabuse them of this incorrect perception that serves their denial purposes so well: “You women don’t NEED another amendment. You already HAVE the 14th Amendment”, they say, wrongly.

    Written in 1868, it DOES NOT protect women and girls; it protects only men and boys, as intended. Constitutional lawyers agree that if you read down to the 2nd section, though not simply stated, it is clear that the 14th Amendment is a MEN-ONLY AMENDMENT. “…all Persons” is defined in the 2nd section as ALL MEN. Please read Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s statements on this.

    The second section of the 14th Amendment deliberately leaves out women when it comes to equality as at the time women were considered “chattel” –possessions of men–along with slaves and children. It has been applied in one or more extreme sex discrimination cases, but is weak and leaves us vulnerable. FEMALES DESERVE THEIR OWN CONTRACT WITH OUR NATION. It is our birthright.

    This is the exact reason American females REQUIRE A NEW AMENDMENT, the ERA, so that we get Honorable Mention alongside men in the U.S. Constitution, our proposed codified contract with our nation!

    We strongly urge that National NOW retract this announcement publicly and change it correctly, and send that around the nation to all NOW chapters and to all legislators in states where the Equal Rights Amendment is being discussed: Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Virginia (tba 2011), and Nevada! Remember, we just need 3 of them to ratify so that ERA passes into the US Constitution; state ERAs lack backbone. All the active states are based on the 3-state strategy that has legal substantiation and has , instead, power to bring about passage WITHIN OUR LIFETIMES not by starting all over for 100 more years.

    Sisters, if we are serious about the ERA and serious in our support for the now-SEVEN states struggling mightily every single day over long hours, and in my case withstanding death threats to lobby pro bono for the ERA, we MUST STAND TOGETHER IN SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT, singing the same song accurately. We must correct this as we have enough to do correcting of Special Interests’ lies.

    Equal Rights Alliance, our Board, our 300,000 supporters, and I do appreciate all that you do for us and all Americans.

    Please respond to our emailed message. Thank you.

    Sandy Oestreich, Founder – President of the now-national Equal Rights Alliance, Inc., and ERA Education, Inc.
    Fmr. elected official; Professor Emerita; Nurse practitioner; Co-author of internationally distributed pharmacology reference texts, etc.

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