Academic Preview: New Paper on the Privileges or Immunities Clause and Slaughter-House

by Xan White, Research and Special Projects Associate, Constitutional Accountability Center

Via his Progressive Liberty Blog, Professor Michael Anthony Lawrence has a new article forthcoming about the 14th Amendment and the Slaughter-House Cases. The article outlines a novel argument for overturning Slaughter-House, suggesting that the majority opinion relied heavily on an inconsequential textual incongruity in the 14th Amendment. Professor Lawrence borrows the phrase “attrition of parliamentary processes” to describe the occasional quirks that appear when a legislature produces a multifaceted text. He argues convincingly that the results of such “attritions” should not obscure the historical record, especially where ample evidence of the legislature’s intent exists.

The article is worth a careful read. Alongside CAC’s Gem of the Constitution, it adds to the litany of evidence that the Slaughter-House was, in the words of Akhil Amar, “flat wrong.” With the Supreme Court set to decide soon whether or not to review the upcoming Second Amendment incorporation case, the 14th Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause is perhaps closer than it has ever been to assuming its rightful place at the center of our Constitution’s protection of fundamental rights.