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The Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment

Akhil Reed Amar
The Yale Law Journal
Vol. 101, No. 6 (Apr., 1992), pp. 1193-1284
DOI: 10.2307/796923
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/796923
Page Count: 92
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The Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment
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Abstract

This Article addresses one of the most important sets of issues in modern constitutional law: whether, how, and to what extent the Fourteenth Amendment "incorporates" the Bill of Rights against the states. The Article begins in the antebellum era, expounding the logic underlying Barron v. Baltimore and the contrary reasoning that led many thoughtful antebellum lawyers to believe that the original Bill of Rights declared principles applicable against state governments. The Article then presents "the easy case for incorporation," based on the plain meaning of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment, and confirmed by its legislative history and later persuasive interpretations. Next, the Article confronts "the hard part of incorporation"-the difficulties of incorporating a Bill importantly inspired by states' rights against states and of adapting populist rights against popular majorities. These difficulties, however, argue not against incorporation per se, but only against the two dominant models of incorporation that emerged on the Warren Court-"total incorporation" and "selective incorporation." The Article concludes by reviving an older model of "refined incorporation" and illustrates the analytic virtues of this model by showing how the Fourteenth Amendment both incorporated and transformed the First Amendment rights of speech, press, petition, and assembly.

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