Why do some on the right look at this basic guarantee of democracy and think nothing's there?
The American imagination is captivated by Philadelphia 1787, where courtly demigods in powdered wigs randomly substituted f for s, as they wrote a flawless charter that timelessly guides our steps today.
It's a nice story, but about as relevant to today's Constitution as the tale of Rip Van Winkle.
The Constitution we live under has had a full 27 amendments added since that summer in Philadelphia. In combination, they have changed our system of government into something the Philadelphia Framers would not recognize.
That's good: that's what Article V is for.
Of those 27th Amendments, none is more important than the Fourteenth. It changed virtually everything about the republic designed at Philadelphia. Today, almost every provision of the Bill of Rights restricts government at all levels. That's because the Fourteenth Amendment applies them to states. In addition, the Fourteenth Amendment bars the states from discriminating unfairly between races or sexes, or between natives and newcomers, or even between citizens and immigrants. Anyone born in this country is a citizen -- because of the Fourteenth Amendment. State governments must conduct elections on the rule of "one person, one vote" -- because of the Fourteenth Amendment. Any citizen who wants to write a letter to the editor criticizing the governor is free to do so -- because of the Fourteenth Amendment. Any religious group that wants to practice its faith despite minority disapproval may do so -- because of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court recently found that the right to bear arms applies to the state governments--because of the Fourteenth Amendment.