The Vinson Court (1946–53)


Which justice argued for total incorporation of the federal Bill of Rights?

Justice Hugo Black argued that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated all of the protections found in the Bill of Rights to the states. Black believed that the Thirty-Ninth Congress, when it passed the Fourteenth Amendment, meant for it to incorporate all of the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states. He explained:

My study of the historical events that culminated in the Fourteenth Amendment, and the expressions of those who sponsored and favored, as well as those who opposed its submission and passage, persuades me that one of the chief objects that the provisions of the Amendment’s first section, separately, and as a whole, were intended to accomplish was to make the Bill of Rights, applicable to the states. With full knowledge of the import of the Barron decision, the framers and backers of the Fourteenth Amendment proclaimed its purpose to be to overturn the constitutional rule that case had announced. This historical purpose has never received full consideration or exposition in any opinion of this Court interpreting the Amendment.


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