The Background of the slaughter-house cases
The Slaughter-House Cases was a landmark Supreme Court decision, which acted as the first interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Slaughter-House cases is viewed as a fundamental court decision in regards to early civil right law; the Supreme Court of the United States read the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the “privileges or immunities” to all individuals of all states within the United States, but not those immunities or privileges incident to the citizenship of a state.
The Slaughter-house cases consolidated three Supreme Court cases that all dealt with the 14th Amendment: The Butchers’ Benevolent Association of New Orleans v. The Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company; The Live-Stock Dealers’ and Butchers’ Association of New Orleans, and Charles Cavaroc v. The State of Louisiana; The Butchers’ Benevolent Association of New Orleans v. The Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company
In the mid-19th century, the city of New Orleans was plagued by pollution as a result of animal byproducts that came from local slaughterhouses; the byproducts flooded the city whenever the tide from the Mississippi river was low. Numerous slaughterhouses would gut roughly 300,000 animals per year and the entrails would be dumped into the river, which ultimately affected the purity of the city’s drinking water.
In response to the polluting of the river, a New Orleans grand jury recommended that the slaughterhouses be moved to the southern portion of the city; however, since the majority of the slaughterhouses were outside city limits, the grand jury’s recommendations held little weight. The city later appealed to the state legislature and as a result, the Louisiana legislature passed a law that allowed the city to create a centralized corporation that consolidated all slaughterhouses in New Orleans.
In response to this legislation, over four hundred members of the Butchers’ Benevolent Association joined together to sue the corporation’s takeover of the slaughterhouse industry.
Slaughter-house cases Trial:
The lower courts in New Orleans favored the states and found the creation of the corporation to be within the state’s powers. Following this decision, six cases were appealed to the Supreme Court: the butchers based these claims on the privileges or immunities, due process and equal protection clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment.
In a 5-4 decision, Justice Samuel Miller, stated that the court held a narrow interpretation of the amendment and ruled that it ultimately did not restrict the police powers of the state.
The Case Profile of the slaughter-house cases
The following is a case profile of the legal trial eponymously titled ‘the slaughter-house cases’:
Date of the Trial: The Slaughter-house cases were argued on January 11, 1872 and re-argued on February 3-5 of 1873
Legal Classification: Administrative Law; this legal field associated with events and circumstances in which the Federal Government of the United States engages its citizens, including the administration of government programs, the creation of agencies, and the establishment of a legal, regulatory federal standard
United States Reports Case Number: 83 U.S. 36
Date of the Delivery of the Verdict: The Slaughter-house cases were decided on April 14, 1873
Legal Venue of the slaughter-house cases: The United States Supreme Court
Judicial Officer Responsible for Ruling: Chief Justice Salmon Chase
Verdict Delivered: The Supreme Court of the United States found that the privileges and immunities of citizenship of the United States are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment while privileges and immunities of citizenship of a state are not protected.