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In his new book, The Fourteenth Amendment and the Privileges and Immunities of American Citizenship, Prof. Lash presents the history surrounding the addition of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. This exhaustively researched book follows the evolution in public understanding of “the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States,” from the early years of the Constitution to the critical national election of 1866. For the first 92 years of our nation's history, nothing in the American Constitution prevented states from abridging freedom of speech, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or denying the right of peaceful assembly. The suppression of freedom in the southern states convinced the Reconstruction Congress and the supporters of the Union to add an amendment forcing the states to respect the rights announced in the first eight amendments. But rather than eradicate state autonomy altogether, the people embraced the Fourteenth Amendment that expanded the protections of the Bill of Rights and preserved the Constitution's original commitment to federalism and the principle of limited national power.
Pressor Kurt Lash, Guy Raymond Jones Chair in Law and Director, Program in Constitutional Theory, History, and Law is joined by critical commenter Elizabeth Price Foley, Professor of Law at the Florida International University School of Law.