John Bingham was one of the most influential but least known visionaries of the post-Civil War Constitution. Dubbed “the James Madison of the 14th Amendment” by Justice Hugo Black, Bingham drafted a constitutional provision that changed the course of American history by ensuring that states were duty-bound to uphold their citizens’ constitutional rights. A moderate Republican and dedicated supporter of abolition before the Civil War, Bingham spearheaded the Reconstruction-era efforts to guarantee citizenship to all people born in the United States, regardless of race, and to extend the Constitution’s promise of equality to all American citizens.
Kurt Lash is the E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Richmond School of Law and the author of the book The Fourteenth Amendment and the Privileges or Immunities of American Citizenship. Lash is the founder and director of the Richmond Program on the American Constitution and the former director of the University of Illinois College of Law Program in Constitutional Theory, History, and Law.
Gerard Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and the author of the definitive biography of Bingham - American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment. Magliocca is the author of three additional books and dozens of articles on constitutional law and intellectual property, and previously clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Today’s show was engineered by David Stotz and produced by Madison Poulter and Scott Bomboy. Research was provided by Lana Ulrich and Leda Morochina.