Slaughter-House Cases

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In the Slaughter-House Cases (1873), the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an argument that the Privileges and Immunities Clause protected individual rights against encroachment by states.

Specifically, the legislature of Louisiana conferred a special monopoly to a slaughterhouse, and butchers in New Orleans complained. But the Supreme Court essentially rendered the Privileges and Immunities Clause ineffective against state laws except in the rarest of circumstances.


The Slaughter-house cases are generally dis-favored among many legal scholars for numerous reason. One problematic component of the court's opinion resides in the treatment of citizenship.

Citizenship of a state is all but abolished. In the ruling:

A citizen of a State is now only a citizen of the United States residing in that State. The fundamental rights, privileges, and immunities which belong to him as a free man and a free citizen now belong to him as a citizen of the United States, and are not dependent upon his citizenship of any State.

The court continued:

The question is now settled by the fourteenth amendment itself, that citizenship of the United States is the primary citizenship in this country, and that State citizenship is secondary and derivative, depending upon citizenship of the United States and the citizen's place of residence.

The dilemma here is that the debate notes of the 14th Amendment are not a debate of how the states get to be abolished and the nation becomes one gigantic mass. Moreover, it puts the states below the Federal government, when it was the states who created the Federal government. The text of the 14th Amendment makes this clear in its opening:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

The court treated this clause more as if it contained the word "or", when it clearly says "and".

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