Citation. 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36 (1873)
Brief Fact Summary.
Some butchers in Louisiana challenged the Louisiana statute that prohibited slaughtering animals in the State and butchers must slaughter only at a certain place and pay a utility fee.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
With the exception of a few restrictions, the entire domain of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the States lay within the constitutional and legislative power of the States, and without that of the Federal Government.
Louisiana enacted a statute in 1869 that made it illegal to slaughter animals in New Orleans except that the ‘Crescent City Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company’ may establish themselves at any point or place. Other butchers sued to enjoin the state-created monopoly, but lost in the state courts and appealed to the Supreme Court. The Act provided that butchers could still slaughter, but had to do it at the Slaughter-House Co. and pay it reasonable compensation for such use of the slaughter house.
Does the Louisiana statute that prohibited slaughtering animals in the State and require butchers to slaughter only at a certain place and pay a utility fee violate the Constitution?
No, of the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the United States, and of the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the State, it is only the former which are placed under the protection of the Constitution, and that the latter are not intended to have any additional protection. The Court interpreted the constitutional clause that provides that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States” was intended to apply to only African American slaves. It was not meant to offer the same economic protection to the citizen of a State against the legislative power of his own State.
The privileges and immunities designated are those which of right belong to the citizens of all free governments. Among these must be placed the right to pursue a lawful employment in a lawful manner, without other restraint than such as equally affects all persons. Grants of exclusive privileges are opposed to the whole theory of free government, and it requires no aid from any bill of rights to render them void. That only is a free government, under which the inalienable right of every citizen to pursue his happiness is unrestrained, except by just, equal and impartial laws.
The Constitution provides that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States. The privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States are, however, confined to those privileges and immunities which are fundamental; which belong of right to the citizens of all free governments, and which have at all times been enjoyed by citizens of the several States which compose this Union, from the time of their becoming free, independent, and sovereign. The privileges and immunities are those that belong to citizens of the States as such, and that they are left to the State governments for security and protection, and not by the Federal government. While the right to acquire and possess property of any kind, to pursue and obtain happiness and safety, to have equal access to transportation is granted to every citizen, the right the plaintiff had alleged is not guaranteed by the Constitution.