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Slaughter-House Cases (Butchers’ Benevolent Association of New Orleans v. Crescent City Livestock Landing and Slaughter-House Company)

    Citation. 83 U.S. 36, 21 L. Ed. 394, 1872 U.S. 16 Wall. 36

    Brief Fact Summary. Butchers challenged the constitutionality of a state law giving a monopoly to a particular slaughterhouse.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution (Constitution) apply only to former slaves. The Fourteenth Amendment protects the privileges and immunities of national, not state citizenship.


    Facts. In 1869, Louisiana passed a law giving a monopoly over the New Orleans slaughterhouse business to the Crescent City Livestock Landing and Slaughterhouse Company. The Butchers’ Benevolent Association of New Orleans argued that the law violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution because it denied them due process, denied them equal protection and abridged their privileges and immunities.

    Issue. Do the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution make the Bill of Rights applicable to the states?

    Held. No. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) observed that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution protects the privileges and immunities of national, not state, citizenship, and neither the Equal Protection, Due Process, or Privilege and Immunities Clauses of that Amendment may be used to interfere with state control of the privileges and immunities of state citizenship. The underlying purpose of the three post-Civil War amendments to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution was to eliminate the remnants of African Slavery, not to effect fundamental changes in the relation of government. The Amendments were promulgated to ensure that former salves were protected from laws passed by the federal government.

    Dissent. Justice Stephen Field (J. Field) dissents because the citizens of a State are also citizens of the United States and are protected.

    Discussion. The Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution applied only to slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution was designed to protect newly freed slaves from discrimination. However, together (with the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution giving slaves the right to vote) these amendments were designed to remedy the grievances of blacks. However, the amendments also forbid enslaving other races. The language is “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.” If this clause was meant to protect a citizen of a state against his own State’s legislation, then the drafter would have used that language, as they did in the previous sentence. This clause protects the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States, not the citizens of the states. The fourth article of the Constitution also has a Privileges and Immunities Clause which states, “The citizens of each State shall be enti
    tled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several states.” This clause protects fundamental rights.
    The rights claimed by the Plaintiffs are not privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
    Also, when analyzing the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, the restraint imposed by Louisiana upon the Plaintiffs’ trade cannot be considered a deprivation of property.

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