In the Twentieth Century, Congress’ power to enact civil rights legislation, and make it privately enforceable against states and private parties, became widely recognized as one of the most important functions of the federal government. Yet in recent years, the Supreme Court has greatly restricted this function with its rulings restricting Congress’ commerce power and its power to enforce the Equal Protection Clause under Section five of the Fourteenth Amendment. Cases such as United States v. Morrison, Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett and Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents have left Congress in a vacuum, without any clear source of power to enact civil rights legislation that is enforceable against the states or private parties. These rulings have many scholars wondering where Congress can turn when it wants to enact civil rights legislation in the future. Largely overlooked in this discussion is a possible solution to the problem. This solution is another clause of the Fourteenth Amendment—the Citizenship Clause—and the rights of federal citizenship, which its Framers intended to be a broad font of federal rights that would be enforceable by Congress.
Zietlow, Rebecca E.
"Congressional Enforcement of Civil Rights and John Bingham's Theory of Citizenship,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 36
, Article 5.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol36/iss4/5