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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

In Re Griffin

I am going to begin a series of posts on a significant part of an article that I'm working on, which is tentatively titled "Amnesty and Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment." The posts concern In Re Griffin, an 1869 circuit decision by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase.

Why am I so interested in Griffin? The short answer is that Griffin is the first Fourteenth Amendment opinion (as far as I can tell). Griffin was issued in May 1869, less than a year after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. The reason Griffin does not receive the attention that a "first" usually gets is that the opinion is about Section Three of the Amendment, which nobody cares about now, rather than about Section One.

This oversight is a mistake, as I will try to show. Griffin is extremely interesting because it set the tone for much of the subsequent interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment and stands in sharp contrast to how Chief Justice Chase understood Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment in a companion case--the treason trial of Jefferson Davis. More tomorrow. 

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on December 1, 2020 at 10:48 AM | Permalink


I'm interested in these lesser known provisions. The Third Amendment, for instance, is interesting and read a couple good law articles back in the day. CJ Chase also had a significant 13A opinion (In re Turner).

It is unfortunate that illness (apparently) led Chase not to write a dissent in the Bradwell case, being the sole justice not going along in that woman's right to be a lawyer case.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 1, 2020 12:11:48 PM

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