The Slaughterhouse Cases: Interpreting the reconstruction Amendments

October 19, 2015 by Jonathan Stahl


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"In the Slaughter House" by Lovis Corinth (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Note:Landmark Cases,C-SPAN’s brand-new series on historical Supreme Court decisions—produced in cooperation with the national Constitution Center—continues onMonday, Oct. 19th at9pm ET. This week’s show featuresthe Slaughterhouse Cases.

You are watching: Which clause in section 1 of the fourteenth amendment was undermined by the slaughterhouse cases

The initially intended definition of assorted constitutional clauses is a source of constant discussion amongst scholars and also jurists. These debates are complicated, in part, due to the fact that of just how long earlier these clauses and amendments were drafted. Simply asking the framers is not an option.

When the can be fried Court heard the Slaughterhouse situations in 1873, they were tasked with interpreting the meaning and border of the repair Amendments passed after the civil War. Although the 13th and 14th Amendments were ratified only 5 years earlier, the Court embraced a contentious reading that the Privileges or Immunities clause of the 14th Amendment. This interpretation changed the trajectory of constitutional law.

In 1869, the Louisiana state legislative branch granted a monopoly to the Crescent City livestock Landing & Slaughterhouse Company, and also mandated the all various other livestock slaughtering businesses in the new Orleans area either shut down or salary to job-related on the Crescent City premises. Louisiana justification this syndicate under that police power to make regulations that promote the “safety, health, welfare and also morals” that its citizens. State officials described that centralizing meat production would increase the welfare of both workers and consumers with the labor and also health standards implemented at the Crescent City slaughterhouse.

Butchers in the brand-new Orleans area objected to the mandate, saying the the legislation made doing organization for them too costly and deprived them of your livelihoods. This butchers sue Louisiana and argued the the state-sanctioned monopoly infringed ~ above their newly ratified 13th and 14th revised rights.

They suggested that being forced to salary the Crescent City slaughterhouse to keep their livelihoods price to involuntary servitude. Furthermore, the butchers argued that the legislation infringed ~ above citizens’ “privileges or immunities” and also deprived individuals of building without “due procedure of law.” The Court was thus asked to decide the limit and meaning of the freshly passed amendments while their ratification to be “fresh in ~ the storage of united state all.”

Writing for the Court, justice Samuel Miller easily dismissed the butcher’s claims about due procedure and involuntary servitude. He stated that “under no construction” the the Due process Clause is the Louisiana state impermissible. He likewise explained that because the intentionally of the 13th revised was plainly to end African-American slavery, it would be improper to recognize this alleged deprivation the livelihood as extended by the amendment.

Justice Miller climate turned to the inquiry of whether the butchers’ “privileges or immunities” were violated by the Louisiana statute. Because that guidance, Justice müller looked to short article IV, i beg your pardon entitles “the citizens of each State” to “all Privileges and Immunities of citizens in the several States.” The 14th Amendment, ~ above the various other hand, promises protection of the “privileges or immunities of citizen of the united States.”

Miller reasoned that the two clauses safeguard different bundles of rights, with short article IV protecting the civil liberties of state citizenship and also the 14th amendment protecting rights of national citizenship. The privileges and immunities that U.S. Citizenship are narrow and only those mentioned in the Constitution, which incorporate the best to openly travel throughout the states. No included, fearbut explained, is the best to one’s livelihood or be protected against a monopoly.

Through this small reading, righteousness Miller successfully rendered the Privileges or Immunities clause impotent—despite the fact that that drafter, Representative man Bingham that Ohio, had explained on the home floor that the clause was intended to give Congress the power to enforce the bill of Rights versus the states. Later, in Adamson v. California, justice Hugo Black created that the historic record was clear that Bingham’s intention to be to ensure that state governments could not hurt the legal rights outlined in the very first ten amendments.

By judgment that the 14th Amendment does not defend substantive rights, constitution scholar Laurence Tribe has actually argued, the Court “incorrectly gutted” the Privileges or Immunities Clause. His partner Akhil Amar has echoed the assessment, declaring that “virtually no serious modern-day scholar—left, right and also center—thinks the <Slaughterhouse> is a plausible reading of the <14th> Amendment.”

As a an outcome of the Slaughterhouse Cases, the butchers in new Orleans were required to deal with the syndicate granted come Crescent City Livestock. But the lasting outcome to be a limited understanding of the Privileges or Immunities Clause. Instead, citizens would need to seek substantive rights defense under the 14th Amendment’s Due process Clause—a strategy that proceeds today.

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Jonathan Stahl is an intern in ~ the national Constitution Center. That is also a senior at the university of Pennsylvania, majoring in politics, philosophy and economics.

Filed Under: 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, write-up IV, can be fried Court, short article III, section 1