The 14th Amendment: The best idea in humanity’s 10,000-year history | Van Jones
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The 14th Amendment: The best idea in humanity’s 10,000-year history | Van Jones


This is the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. I’m not going to read the whole thing, I’m
just going to read the first section: ‘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.’ Any person within its jurisdiction cannot
be denied the equal protection of its laws. To me, the 14th Amendment, especially this
idea of equal protection under the law, is the whole enchilada—for me. First of all, when you talk about protection
that implies that there must be a harm someplace that you’re trying to protect someone from. That opens a door to have a whole discussion
about reality. A lot of this stuff floats above reality,
it’s all abstract principle, but to have equal protection under the law means that
you’re going to have some permission for some activism from the government. You’re going to have some permission to
talk about inequality, unequal treatment, unfair treatment for—they were contemplating
African Americans—but they say everybody. So it doesn’t say equal protection under
the law unless you’re a lesbian. That’s not what it says. It doesn’t say equal protection under the
law unless you’re African American. That’s not what it says. It says if you’re in the jurisdiction you
get equal protection under the law. That’s radical. In 10,000 years of human history, that’s radical. And I think it’s very, very important that
we uphold the 14th Amendment. We talk about the First Amendment, we talk
about the Second Amendment, we talk about sometimes the Fifth Amendment, but we don’t
talk about the 14th Amendment enough. Equal protection under the law.

94 Comments

  • Seaneiboy

    What was more radical is when Alexander the Great broke with Aristotle that only Athenians are free, that all people are worthy of freedom. He learned this by witnessing the Persian strength on the battlefield. He said, maybe Athenians aren’t special, and all deserve freedom. You’d never hear that about Afghans from American leaders. That’s why he could achieve peace but we can’t.

  • Fraser MacDonald

    Yet another myopic ramble about the 'unique' tenets of the U.S. constitution. There are over 35 countries that offer this same protection.

  • Tommy Reusse

    american amendments dont really have anything to do with humanity as a whole.. its just one of 100+ countries. lol

  • John Petrov

    Yeah but Jones, you leftists don’t know what Emancipation means. You think it means black people cant be put in chains and made to pick cotton. That’s not even close to what it means. The principle of emancipation means Mexicans can’t be brought across the border to “do jobs Americans won’t do.” It means California can’t have a modern quasi-slavery system of high rent and low pay. It means the words, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” are evil words. The 14th Amendment means you can’t guarantee anyone the essentials of life in exchange for work. Abolishing slavery was about reconstituting charity, not communism, as the mechanism of survival for the underprivileged. You leftists are the ones who have not come to terms with the 14th Amendment. Not the right wingers.

  • NinetiesChild 91

    Since when did thinking the same as most of western civilised countries become the great idea?. Are you blind to the rest of us.

  • Charles-A Rovira

    Don't try and tell that to Drumpf. The imperiousness demonstrated by people like him is the reason the French revolted in 1789 and Guillotined the lot.

  • The Last Straw

    Unfortunately the public doesn't understand that the fourteenth amendment was drafted to allow slavery by your own consent under the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia.

  • 1p6t1gms

    That’s weird, I was thinking about making enchiladas for dinner and then Van solidified it with the 14th.
    It’s a shame humanity hasn’t reach a point of self control in 10,000 years that these things need to be written and enforced the way it is done today. It seems important as it stands today, but then this is the best people are capable to realize, will it not change in 10,000 more years to something unreconstructed? Maybe no enchiladas, god forbid, say it isn‘t true.

  • solrinin

    It's an amazing concept that is very poorly executed in this country, probably most countries too. Money and power tend to give you extra protection from the law the world around.

    For example, the Dupont heir that molested his own very young daughter (I want to say she was like 3-6 years old?) and got sentence to house arrest because "he wouldn't fare well in prison". Or in other words he was protected from the law because of his wealth, since I've never heard of any other poor people not being sent to prison because they wouldn't fare well. Most people tend to not fare well in prison, that kind of seems like part of the point of our prison system.
    We also have the infamous "affluenza" case, which basically says rich kids can't tell right from wrong so they shouldn't be punished as harshly (if at all) because they have shitty parents. Loads of poor kids also have shitty parents that don't teach them right from wrong and those kids get sent to juve/prison for killing multiple people while driving drunk with a restricted license while under age, not just a slap on the wrist with probation time.
    And if you're not rich you can always join the police force for their power to break the law with immunity, like the guy who had "You're fucked" etched on his gun that murdered the guy crying and begging for his life in that hotel hallway.

  • Eric Lindell

    The fourteenth amendment made the bill of rights binding on the states. Ironically, the bill of rights had been passed by the states to curtail the power of the federal government. Something is wrong here.

    It was inevitable that the federal government would exceed its constitutional mandate. That's why a schizophrenic constitution was ratified listing federal government's powers in the body and powers it doesn't have in the amendments. It's like a menu that lists dishes served by a restaurant on one side and dishes it doesn't serve on the other.

    Thanks to the federal government's arrogant power grabs, we've had unending wars for the better part of a century, with millions of people killed — among Americans and others — and trillions of dollars spent — with no end in sight.

    The fourteenth amendment is exploitation disguised as empowerment. But for the second amendment, the federal government would have completed this enslavement long ago.

    Yowza x 3.

  • Shlovaski

    Yeah yeah Why dont you people give islam due cresit when it had a similiar constitution back in madina with the jews christians and muslims?

  • Fee_ Lo

    Ohh god. I used to like the 14th amendment but you had to bring this clown into it? This is who you drag out of the cultural muck to represent the 14th? A partisan hack? Shame. I have seen him, on more than one occasion, advocated for removing the protections of the 14th amendment from individuals. You guys are becoming a joke.

  • Nico Bruin

    Humanity's 10000 year history? If you count our history as having begun when we invented writing, our history is quite a bit shorter then that. If you count since the beginning of our species, you get into a debate about when that started but you're going back a lot further then 10000 years.
    Also writing and agriculture are a bit more important imho.

  • Gandoff2000

    It is good but they need to add "any person born on American soil of illegal immigrants must earn naturalized citizenship by age 18 or be deported to their parents country of citizenship under a case reviewed by a judge".

  • Diego Navas

    This guy is a liar from CNN.
    Haven't you guys watched the Veritas Project…
    Is not good for this channel publishing from these sources.

  • Kuntal Sarma

    United States is not humanity, there r people in other countries too. Americans apparently think the world revolves around them.

  • JGJ2110

    Instead of a series on the Constitution of the USA, how about Big Think goes back to actually thinking big?
    There are other implementations of for instance freedom of speech and equal protection under the law, how about we talk about the concepts themselves instead?
    Or if Big Think insists on talking about implementations, then perhaps do a comparison of them.
    I mean, isn't Big Think supposed to be a global channel rather than an American one?

  • The God Emperor

    Too bad the 14th amendment has been used to justify 'Corporate Personhood' and has caused a lot of corruption in our system.

  • Mac Ton

    I would've thought the 13th amendment would be more radical. Thank you white people for making slavery illegal. First time in human history. ✌

  • Saltpork305

    "Shall not be infringed" is pretty straight forward too but the only thing that's ever come out of Van Jones' mouth about gun control is opposite of the fairly racist history of it, but guns are scary so let's just sweep that one under the rug. You even compared the NRA to the KKK less than a month ago.

    Big Think: If you're going to do this, cover ALL AMENDMENTS.

  • mauricehayes

    I love this bullshit. Make an obvious statement infure something without evidence or proof. Than end the video.This is a strawman argument.

  • shuushirakawa

    Oh, it's Mr. Whitelash. Of course, he'd say this. Leave it to the Americans to claim that the 14th Amendment started the equal protection under the law by saying is a radical idea in all of 10,000 years of human history.

  • Chuck-U Farly

    I couldn't help but notice that the right wing CONs have attacked every amendment where it says equal in it. Not surprisingly the republicons will always try to thwart the democratic process whenever they can. Just today it came out that the republicons in PA want to impeach all the state supreme court justices that they ruled against their flagellant gerrymandering to steal elections. The PA SC ruled they can't rig elections with gerrymandering so the republicons say they will impeach them and stack the court so they can cheat and steal elections.

    The right wing CONs are the biggest threat to this country both domestic and abroad.

  • Breaking House

    Who's trying to do away with the 14th Amendment? I was a pointless video. Van Jones he's talking to hear himself talk

  • kd1s

    Kind of like here in Rhode Island where the Capitol city (Or should that be Capital – money grab) where they installed speed cameras in certain locations. I advocate that it violates the 6th amendment in that we have a right to face our accuser – how do you face an accuser that is a machine and software?

  • James Mauch

    The interesting thing about the 14th amendment to me is that it fundamentally changed the role of the federal government.

  • C. Haas

    Can you say sanctuary cities is the complete opposite of the 14th amendment. Our Constitution any more is nothing but ass wipe paper. Just like everything else in this country everything is an exception. Oh judge I really didn't mean to rape and MURDER that poor little girl I was just horny I'll tell you what let me off this time and I'll never do it again, judge sanctuary city oh OK Mr no resident of this country just be nicer next time. I mean WTF.

  • DeadMeat

    The 14th is important to stop institutional prejudice from the states. Unfortunately, the main argument is not because it's morally just but good for business. A lot of our commerce legislation is based on the 14th.

  • CYI3ERPUNK

    the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America are incredible documents, but without people and institutions to uphold them and hold others accountable to them, then they are just pieces of paper sadly… =/ thus why the USA is in such a sad situation these days

  • MyHotdogWeiner

    Keyword being idea. As if the government would give a shit about the common man. “Pay your taxes and die. Oh and by the way fuck you if your gay or brown.” We need a new revolution to hang all the politicians and lobbyists, literally. They are our worst enemy.

  • richard mather

    As a non american I can assure you that the 14th amendment to your baby countries constitution ,, doesn't even rank in the top 1000 ideas of the past 1000 years.Get over yourselves…

  • Donza Thompson

    But see , the liberals subvert that amendment by characterizing certain select behaviors as “personhood “ to the exclusion of other behaviors such as bigamy , incest and so on . Also Equal protection isn’t the same thing as equal treatment. Even during slavery, slaves were equally protected by law from being outright murdered, but that doesn’t mean they were given equal treatment

  • LonestarMike

    I think we're heading in the right direction for more equality but there are still those parents/friends that brainwash.

  • James Wigg

    It says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof." At the end of the video you state that the 14th amendment protects "everybody" that is within the jurisdiction. This is incorrect. Again, it says that ONLY all persons born or naturalized in the United States AND (NOT OR) subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are protected by the amendment. This means that illegal immigrants/ aliens are not protected by the 14th amendment, as they were NOT born or naturalized in the United States. Your statement at the end of the video implies that they are protected because they are 'present' in its land or jurisdiction.

  • Bat Shit Crazy

    Really? Cause without the principles of the 1st amendment, the 14th amendment would likely not exist or Americans would have had to kill for its existence and it likely wouldn’t last long. All of our freedoms are dependent upon free and open debate. In Canada hate speech laws are being sold to the sheeples of our country in an effort to protect the winners of the victimhood Olympics from hearing things they don’t like and it is clear to me that logic and reason is not a necessary prerequisite for these folks. They have claimed the moral high ground and attack anyone who dares disagree. Freedom of speech is the necessary foundation of a free society, without it authoritarianism is right around the corner.

  • cruhg

    the legislation of "citizenship" under the series of equity law amendments actually infringes on the personal sovereignty that every american had prior, conflicting with the constitution itself and making it null and void of law according to marbury v madison. if you look before the reconstruction act, the first 10 amendments refer to the people as the people and all after as citizens, the citizen is treated as a corporation and all otherwise unconstitutional statutes can apply since a citizen is not seen as a flesh and blood human anymore, citizenship is in fact a capitus diminutio maxima title. it is also erroneous to refer to an american as a "citizen" because that implies two fundamental elements- duty of protection and duty of allegiance. according to warren v district of columbia (1981) bowers v devito (1982) police are not required to help anyone, which means there is no duty of protection, proving citizenship unlawful and that THERE IS NO PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW. guarantee no one reads this

  • Klotz

    I think it's fair to say that the stereotype of the American citizen thinking they have the greatest country in the world is no longer a stereotype.

  • Stefan Larsen

    pretty banal vid, i think much more interesting and less politicised things can be said about the american constitution. it would be better for this channel if it didnt continue to pay too much attention to ideologues and their dull interpretations of straightforward and obvious laws. theres a lot of interesting people out there, and this CNN contributor is not one of them. we can get this level of content from a channel like colbert's

  • Stephen Attwood

    Without the 1st amendment the 14th could never have been put forth.If big think is gonna have black supremacists on ,they should at least be fair and have white supremacists so as to not blatantly show there bias.

  • Zboegt

    "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" So when some asshole cops takes your cash out of your pocket on the side of the road (no due process) that is illegal right??? Oh, no that is "drug money" and they can just take that 14th Amendment be damned.

  • Dick Hamilton

    yes, it's a great amendment and a great ambition. It would be really good if the actuality could live up to it.

  • unicornkiller

    14th amendment didnt free the slaves, just made more of them. Act of 1873 plus the 14th made us all slaves. Learn Maritime Admerilty Law

  • RG Sliwa

    If we had equal protection under the law then why is it that we have such high legal cost associated with bringing our case too the courts? American's are being papered to death with the rules and regulations that must be followed and live by that there isn't room for just living a life in the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of life and liberty.

  • Josh Erkman

    This is a reinforcement of the Rule of Law Verse the Rule of Man. Under the Rule of Man the rules were determined by the ruler and they could be applied harsher or softer depending on that rulers desires. The Shift to the rule of law changes all that. Anyone no matter who they are, king or pauper is subject to the punishment of the law should they transgress it.

  • redneckhippiefreak

    Yeah, Sounds good and all but…Try and recite this when asset forfeiture is used against you.. Good luck. No one cares about our founding papers any more. Our President even threatened to destroy those that oppose the Asset forfeiture. Sad .

  • j Dubb

    We aren't Persons or citizen within the states we reside with sovereignty . The 14tH amendment makes us ALL subject to the UNITED STATES Corporation. Trading freedom for liberty. There is a difference. The 13th and 14tH amendment destroyed natural citizenship and now through contractual law ( yes you signed a contract when you apply for social service ) you surrender your freedom for liberty. Benefits are not favors.

  • Da Hawk

    There are blatant exceptions to the 14th Amendment that this video is conveniently ignoring.

    Perhaps the most obvious is this:
    A 17 yr old citizen does not have the same protection of law that an 18 yr old citizen has. And both of these do not have the same protection as a 21 yr old citizen. HUGE divisions here are entrenched into our society. The Constitution even violates itself by saying that you're not eligible for certain jobs based on age. Like POTUS until you reach the age of 35. 30 for Senator. 25 for the House.

    There are plenty of other examples. Like entrenched lack of equal protection based upon gender. See what happens when a woman uses a "Men's Bathroom". Or a man attempts to compete in an athletic competition that's been restricted to women only. There WAS an amendment that was going to erase this form of distinction. ERA got shot down.

    So while we might agree that the 14th Amdmt is brilliant in concept, let's not lose sight of the exceptions that are in full force. In the case of the gender distinction highlighted above, "Separate But Equal" is quite alive and well. And in the case of age distinction, "Separate but INEQUAL" is the rule. Everywhere.

    BIG THINK, I understand how you want to cater your vids to the short attention span that lives at the center of the bell curve. But you might want to consider producing vids that are several seconds longer and cover topics a bit more thoroughly. Here in this one it appears you picked a black person to tell this story, because as your description explains, this amendment happened in the wake of slavery being outlawed. But imagine if you had a 14 yr old child telling this story, and going that extra mile to explain how Separate But Equal impacts the lives of American kids every day, a hundred & fifty+ years after Lincoln.

    You've ignored this issue in the thick of March For Our Lives. Kids are getting shot, yet the 14th Amendment does absolutely nothing to empower them to make laws that will physically protect them from flying bullets . They are PREVENTED from making laws that would do this. They have no peer in a lawmaking position that can protect them. Or even conduct an official debate in a lawmaking forum that might produce a law that would protect them.

    Many of these children have demonstrated full competence to be in such a position. Yet they are prohibited by law, simply because of what the calendar says.

  • Ezma Darlington

    Of course a progressive would love this amendment, but let’s clarify….shall we?

    The second part of the 14th Amendment applies to all persons "born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof'." This could only mean the territorial jurisdiction of the federal government. As stated in the Supreme Court case of Chisholm v. Georgia, all jurisdiction implies superiority of power. So if you are subject to the jurisdiction of the federal government, that implies their power is superior to your sovereign power, or the sovereign power of your state. In other words, you are not a sovereign, but a subject, if you are a U.S. citizen, name spelled in all caps.

    A 'U.S. citizen' is a subject of the federal government, subject to its jurisdiction. An 'American Citizen' is a sovereign individual, and the government is subject to him, and no court has jurisdiction over him, without his permission. When you present yourself to a court, you give them temporary jurisdiction for a certain issue to be settled. Once it is settled, then that jurisdiction ceases. That is why plaintiffs must prove jurisdiction before courts can hear a case.

    An important distinction needs to be understood here. The sovereign technically has inalienable rights, NOT constitutional rights. We all call them constitutional rights, but they are not. They are inalienable rights SECURED by constitutions, state and federal. The basis of any inalienable right is established in the Declaration of Independence. This document very clearly states that "We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." Look for the mention of God, or inalienable rights, in the Constitution, and you will not find them.

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