The fourteenth amendment was one of the three Reconstruction amendments that had the most lasting effect. It’s due process of law clause preserved individual freedoms and limited the power of the government to take away previously mentioned freedoms. Years after the ratification of the fourteenth, there have been disputes in many supreme court cases over the interpretations of this amendment. This preservation of freedom is particularly important because it limited the power state government.
Prior to the year 1877, the 14th amendment had very little effect. The southern states were given the task of recognizing African Americans as being free, but for years they neglected the 14th amendment. As I’ve mentioned before, the exact definition of the 14th amendment has been debated since it is so broad. Even to this day the due process of law clause is debated in court. For example in McDonald v. Chicago, a recent landmark case concerning gun rights, McDonald claimed that the 14th protected his rights to bear arms. In the end McDonald won the case, counting as another victory for the people.