Saturday, February 1, 2003

Lawmakers: Ohio will ratify 14th Amendment

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

State lawmakers say they will sponsor a resolution to ratify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution after law students at the University of Cincinnati discovered Ohio rescinded its ratification in 1868 and never reinstated it.

Ohio is the only state that hasn't ratified the amendment.

The amendment, which guarantees that all people born or naturalized in the United States are citizens, says states cannot deprive citizens of due process and promises equal protection under the law, is still valid because three-fourths of the states have ratified it.

It gave blacks citizenship, allowing them to vote.

"What concerned students is that this was the last word from the government," said University of Cincinnati law Professor Gabriel J. Chin. "It symbolic, but it's a pretty important symbol."

Chin oversees the Urban Justice Institute, which offers students interested in public policy research related work outside the classroom. Students at the institute made the discovery.

State Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati, and Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, agreed to sponsor a resolution that will ratify the amendment.

The 14th amendment was passed after the Civil War to protect citizens' rights. Ohio ratified the amendment in 1867, but rescinded it a year later.

Chin said that the newly elected General Assembly that year had representatives who campaigned on racist platforms and didn't want blacks to vote.

"Everyone was shocked when they found out Ohio was the only state not to have ratified the amendment," said Dan Dodd, one of the students in the institute.

Both lawmakers said they were surprised by the students' findings.

"I had no idea," said Cates. "I don't think anybody knew, which is why this has never been done before."

"We have to fix this," Mallory said. He added that leaders in the house and senate support the resolution.

It could happen as soon as March during a special session to celebrate the state's bicentennial in Chillicothe, Mallory said.


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