Reconstruction: The Civil War Amendments

In an interview aired prior to the lecture, Mr. Silverman described the six-part lecture series concerning the impact of the U.S.… read more

In an interview aired prior to the lecture, Mr. Silverman described the six-part lecture series concerning the impact of the U.S. Civil War on the Constitution and on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Blackmun introduced the lecturers. Professor Belz reviewed the first forum on the pre-Civil War issues and outlined the Civil War Amendments topic which the panelists were asked to examine. Professor Maltz examined the changes, especially the civil rights acts and the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave the federal government the power to enforce state obligations to protect fundamental civil rights. However, this obligation remained to the states. The national government gained supremacy, but still within the federal system. Professor Benedict examined the debates over the various civil rights bills and the Fourteenth Amendment. One of the most controversial issues was the distinction between civil rights, i.e., economic rights, and political rights, i.e. voting. He concluded that the court during the term of Morrison Waite as Chief Justice from 1874 to 1888 held a more expansive view of the Fourteenth Amendment and the powers of the federal government than many other scholars assert. Professor Randall argued that the Supreme Court escapes some of the blame laid on it by many for being too reactionary and undermining the “liberating” thirteenth through fifteenth amendments because these amendments were not as perfect as many believe. However, he disagrees with others, such as Professor Benedict, who claim that the Waite court was much more helpful to blacks. He concluded that it has a better reputation because the justices did not have to decide difficult cases, such as Plessy v. Ferguson, which created the controversial “separate but equal” doctrine. This was the sixth in a series entitled, “The Supreme Court in the Civil War.” close

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Reconstruction: The Civil War Amendments

Program ID:
Public Affairs Event
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
First Aired:
May 29, 1994
Last Aired:
Sep 16, 2003

Airing Details

  • May 29, 1994 | 12:07pm EDT | C-SPAN 1
  • May 29, 1994 | 6:30pm EDT | C-SPAN 2
  • May 30, 1994 | 2:40am EDT | C-SPAN 2
  • Sep 16, 2003 | 2:00am EDT | C-SPAN 3
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