KIRBY IS THE 14TH AMENDMENT! ELI5- Incorporating the B.O.R. into the 14th Amendment

Posted Eureka Lessons American Government, Lessons

Teaching students about federalism and the 14th Amendment's incorporation of the B.O.R. can be difficult when many adults admittedly don't understand it themselves.  I remember struggling with the concept in my constitutional history course as an undergrad (oh so many years ago).  Then one night as I was playing Super Smash Brothers, I was struck with an epiphany.  "Kirby is the 14th Amendment!" I exclaimed to my very confused friends.  Kirby is a character whose vacuum-like mouth allows him to suck his opponents in and mimic their abilities.  If Kirby is the 14th Amendment, then Link, Bowser, Mario, and friends are the Bill of Rights.


Let's review.  The Bill of Rights protects citizens against the federal government whereas the 14th Amendment protects citizens against the state governments.

"...nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law..."

Let's use Kirby and the 5th Amendment to illustrate this point.  Under the 5th Amendment's double jeopardy clause, citizens are guaranteed protection against being subject to the same offense twice.  It only applied to the federal courts until the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Benton vs. Maryland (1969) that the double jeopardy clause protected those being tried in a state court as well.

kirby swallow

Using the photo above, we're going to pretend Mario represents the double jeopardy clause in the 5th Amendment and Kirby represents the 14th Amendment.  He has incorporated Mario's double jeopardy powers and can now use them to protect people against the state.


After 1925, we saw a proliferation of U.S. Supreme Court cases that established the incorporation of the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment.  Today, Kirby has incorporated most of our Bill of Rights.

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