In these cases, the Supreme Court made a narrow interpretation of the privileges or immunities clause (P or I clause) of the Fourteenth Amendment, with the result that none of the first eight amendments have been applied to the states by way of that clause.
The Slaughterhouse Cases combined three suits challenging a Louisiana law that granted a single company the exclusive right to butcher animals in New Orleans. Although the legislature tried to defend the law as a rational means of promoting sanitation, it appeared to provide a monopoly to a small group of wealthy individuals with powerful political connections. Hundreds of New Orleans butchers, operating as small businesses, were put out of work as a result of the monopolistic legislation.
John A. Campbell, a southerner who had resigned from the Supreme Court at the start of the Civil War, represented the butchers in the Slaughterhouse Cases.
The butchers, represented by former Supreme Court justice
The Court, by a 5-4 margin, rejected Campbell’s arguments and interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment very narrowly. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Samuel F. Miller
Years later, the Supreme Court would broadly interpret the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as a means of protecting the kinds of economic liberties that the butchers asserted, and it would also use the due process clause to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. Although the Slaughterhouse ruling has never been overturned, in Saenz v. Roe
Labb, Ronald M., and Jonathan Lurie. The Slaughterhouse Cases: Regulation, Reconstruction, and the Fourteenth Amendment. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.
Bill of Rights
Campbell, John A.
Due process, procedural
Due process, substantive
Miller, Samuel F.
Privileges and immunities