Guest Speaker Brings Fourteenth Amendment To Life

The honorable Margaret Go, a magistrate judge, and Alec Ostrow, a bankruptcy lawyer, visited Stuart Rothstein’s criminal law classes. May 1 is considered to be “Law Day,” and every year, there is a new theme. This year’s theme was the Fourteenth Amendment, which addresses natural citizenship and equal protection for all people, meaning that states cannot discriminate against certain types of citizens.

The honorable Go and Mr. Ostrow explained the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment and how it is incorporated into their work. They went into detail of their careers and the things they encounter.

Ms. Go, who has been a magistrate judge for 24 years said, “The Fourteenth Amendment affects a lot of simple things.”

She further elaborated on the significance of the amendment by speaking of previous life-changing cases linked to the Fourteenth amendment, such as Loving vs. Virginia.

Loving vs. Virginia was a case in which the Supreme Court annulled laws forbidding interracial marriage. Since there were restrictions on marriages due to race, the Supreme Court reached its decision by determining that it violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Students in Mr. Rothstein’s class said they felt the guest speakers gave them major insight on how important the Fourteenth amendment is.

Abigail Townsend’18 said, “I didn’t realize that the Fourteenth Amendment was this important. It gives us all equal civil rights as well as legal rights, which is really important.”

Since Mr. Ostrow is a federal bankruptcy lawyer, he doesn’t deal with much criminal law and cases correlated to the Fourteenth Amendment.

“The Fourteenth Amendment usually applies to states,” said Mr. Ostrow.

However, he still found a way to associate his experience in his career to the amendment and described how effective it is in daily life. For example, Mr. Ostrow said that if someone files for bankruptcy, they can’t be discriminated against while applying for jobs, or that can be considered a violation of equal protection as well as Due Process, which is also a part of the Fourteenth Amendment. Due process states the government is obliged to respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law.

“Seeing that Mr. Ostrow occasionally deals with the Fourteenth Amendment even though he is a federal lawyer reveals that this holds greater significance than I thought, and affects all of us” said Jemelia Moore’18.

Mr. Rothstein’s students appreciated his efforts in bringing in guest speakers that helped them acknowledge the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment. Many students stated that schools often stress the importance of certain amendments, such as the First Amendment and Nineteenth Amendment (women’s suffrage), yet don’t emphasize the significance of the others even though they are all equally important.

Students who weren’t in Mr. Rothsteins’s class and weren’t able to attend the lecture also thought it was a good opportunity for students to appreciate their amendments and realize how important each one is.

Fariha Nayab’18 said, “Even though I was unable to attend the lecture, I heard a lot about it. I appreciate that students were being informed more about amendments that we don’t know much about, especially since they impact us deeply.”

As the citizens of this nation, being aware of our political rights is something we should be well informed about.



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