GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: CHP

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1868, prohibits state governments from denying citizens the "equal protection of the laws." Although precisely what the framers of the amendment meant by this equal protection clause remains unclear, all interpreters agree that the framers' immediate objective was to provide a constitutional warrant for the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which guaranteed the citizenship of all persons born in the United States and subject to United States jurisdiction. This declaration, which was echoed in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, was designed primarily to counter the Supreme Court's ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that Black people in the United States could be denied citizenship. The act was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson, who argued that the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, did not provide Congress with the authority to extend citizenship and equal protection to the freed slaves. Although Congress promptly overrode Johnson's veto, supporters of the act sought to ensure its constitutional foundations with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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The author implies that the Fourteenth Amendment might not have been enacted if

  • A Congress' authority with regard to legislating civil rights had not been challenged
  • B the framers had anticipated the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education
  • C the framers had believed that it would be used in deciding cases of discrimination involving non-racial groups
  • D most state governments had been willing to protect citizens' civil rights
  • E its essential elements had not been implicit in the Thirteenth Amendment

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