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Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Kathryn A. Piper

    Brief Fact Summary. The Appellee, Ms. Kathryn A. Piper (Appellee), a nonresident of New Hampshire, desired to practice law in New Hampshire. However, the Appellee could not because the Appellant, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire (Appellant), said only the New Hampshire lawyers were allowed to practice there. The Appellee claimed the decision violated her rights under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution (Constitution).

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The opportunity to practice law is a “fundamental right.” There is no substantial reason for denying nonresidents admission to the New Hampshire to and the discrimination does not bear a close relationship to the State’s objectives.

    Facts. The Appellee is a resident of Vermont who wanted to practice law in New Hampshire, but could not because New Hampshire would not allow nonresidents to practice law in New Hampshire. Specifically, Rule 42 of the New Hampshire Supreme Court included the prohibition on admission. The Appellee sued the Supreme Court of New Hampshire contending that the rule violated her rights under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

    Issue. Is the practice of law a “fundamental right” and therefore protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause?

    Held. Yes, the practice of law a “fundamental right” and therefore protected by the Fourteen Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause.

    Dissent. Judge William Rehnquist (J. Rehnquist) dissents because he thinks the practice of law does not easily transfer across state lines and is different from other occupations. J. Rehnquist feels the state has a substantial interest in creating its own sets of laws that parallel the states interest. States have an interest in demanding residents practice law in New Hampshire because it makes the pool of lawyers better. New Hampshire has substantial reasons for demanding lawyers be residents and the rule does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause.

    Discussion. The practice of law is essential to the economy and is therefore a privilege protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause. Out-of-state lawyers are essential to the field because they will be more likely to bring unpopular claims. The opportunity to practice law is a “fundamental right.” It does not preclude discrimination against nonresidents when: (1) there is a substantial reason for the difference in treatment and (2) the discrimination against non-residents bears a substantial relationship to the State’s and objective.
    The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) concluded there is no evidence to support New Hampshire’s justification for their rule. New Hampshire neither advances “substantial reason” for its discrimination against nonresident applicants to the bar, nor demonstrates that the discrimination practiced bears a close relationship to the State’s objec


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