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14th Amendment: Sections 4 and 5

Two weeks ago in these pages, I looked at the second and third sections of the 14th Amendment. Today I continue with its two final sections, the fourth and the fifth.

Section 4 clarifies which debts the U.S. Federal government will honor as valid.

The first sentence reads: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

In other words, the federal government will continue to pay interest and principal on those debts that it “in...


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