An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

In 1869, Louisiana’s legislature ordered the closure of all private slaughterhouses in New Orleans. The government granted a monopoly to a single, privately owned slaughterhouse. Now, everyone would have to use that facility. A group of butchers sued the state. They argued that the Slaughter-House monopoly that prohibited private butcher shops violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause. Specifically, the law abridged their constitutional “right to exercise their trade” — a right that is not expressly enumerated in the text of the Constitution.

The Court split 5-4, and ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not pro- tect this unenumerated right. Justice Miller wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clifford, Strong, Hunt, and Davis. In dissent were Chief Justice Chase, and Justices Field, Bradley, and Swayne.

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