UC Students' Work Has Ohio on Verge of Historic Vote

Swift action by the Ohio legislature will likely lead to a milestone this week for one of the most important pieces of American civil rights legislation.

The two houses of the legislature are scheduled to vote on a resolution confirming Ohio's approval on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing all citizens equal protection of the law. Doubts about Ohio's stance on the amendment were first raised through research by a group of University of Cincinnati College of Law

The Ohio Senate unanimously approved the resolution in its Tuesday afternoon session, with the House expected to take up the matter on Wednesday. Once Ohio extends its approval to the 14th Amendment, it will join the Bill of Rights and the women’s suffrage amendment as the only amendments with unanimous national approval.

The Ohio resolution is jointly sponsored by State Sen. Mark Mallory (D – Cincinnati) and State Rep. Gary Cates (R – West Chester).

Last week, the UC law students traveled to Columbus to testify in front of legislative committees. Their research showed that Ohio rescinded its ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 and has never reinstated it.

"With the possible exception of the Declaration of Independence, the 14th Amendment is quite simply the most important law in U.S. history," said Jack Chin, the co-director of the Urban Justice Institute and the Rufus King Professor of Law at the UC College of Law. The Urban Justice Institute at the UC College of Law helped support a group of seven students who have led the 14th Amendment project within the college.

Since its adoption, the 14th Amendment has been the underpinning for a number of landmark Supreme Court decisions, including Brown vs. Board of Education and decisions that guaranteed the right to marriage and the right to own property.

Ohio initially voted to ratify the 14th Amendment in 1867. But before it became law, a newly-elected General Assembly in 1868 rescinded the previous assembly’s vote of approval. The new resolution will make absolutely clear Ohio’s position on the amendment.

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