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United Building & Construction Trades Council v. Mayor of Camden

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Brief Fact Summary.

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Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, a state may not deny essential rights to a resident of another state, unless there is substantial justification for the difference in treatment.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

It is discrimination against out-of-state residents on matters of fundamental concern which triggers the Clause, not regulation affecting interstate commerce.

View Full Point of Law
Facts.

A municipal ordinance of Camden, New Jersey, required at least 40% of the employees of contractors and subcontractors working on city construction projects to be Camden residents. Plaintiff brought suit challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing that it violates the Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

Issue.

Does the Privileges and Immunities Clause apply to a municipal ordinance requiring preferential hiring on city construction work?

Held.

Yes, the Privileges and Immunities Clause does apply. Judgment of the New Jersey Supreme Court is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Dissent.

Justice Blackmun

The Framers had every reason to believe that interstate discrimination based on municipal residence would be dealt with by the States themselves. The Privileges and Immunities Clause does not apply to discrimination based on municipal residence.

Discussion.

The fact that Camden adopted the discriminatory ordinance in its capacity as a municipality does not render it immune from review under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. As a threshold matter, the Court must decide whether the ordinance burdens any of the privileges or immunities protected by the clause. The Court held that an out-of-state resident’s interest in employment on public works contracts was “fundamental to the promotion of interstate harmony.” It went on to explain that the pursuit of a job is one of the most fundamental privileges protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause. As such, judgment is reversed and case is remanded for a determination of the validity of the ordinance under the appropriate constitutional standard.


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