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Ilan Wurman on Overruling the Slaughter-House Cases
Michael Ramsey

At Law & Liberty, Ilan Wurman (Arizona State): Reversing the Legacy of Slaughter-House.  From the introduction: 

For the first time since the mid-twentieth century, originalists comprise a majority of the Supreme Court. Yet for all their originalist bona fides and eagerness to overturn precedents, the majority has expressed remarkably little interest in overturning one of the most egregiously wrong Supreme Court cases ever decided: The Slaughter-House Cases (1873). Those cases, whose 150th anniversary this month’s forum marks, eviscerated from the Constitution the Fourteenth Amendment’s crown jewel, the Privileges or Immunities Clause. That clause provides, along with the preceding Citizenship Clause, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

It is commonly believed that the relevant work of the clause is already accomplished under more conservative versions of modern substantive due process and equal protection. But that is not the case. If the clause were to be properly revived, that would raise serious questions about the modern lack of protection for economic liberties, and—even more provocatively—about the modern doctrine of incorporation. To be sure, there is no scholarly unanimity on the scope of the privileges and immunities of US citizens, and there is even less consensus on what work the word “abridge” does. On the latter point, I have a dissenting view, at least relative to contemporary scholars—though the more I speak of my views, the more I discover others agree.

Nevertheless, a careful examination of the debates over the clause’s scope and work shows that scholarly disagreements notwithstanding, the Supreme Court cannot continue to ignore this clause. ...