Slaughterhouse Cases

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Slaughterhouse Cases

Slaughterhouse Cases, cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1873. In 1869 the Louisiana legislature granted a 25-year monopoly to a slaughterhouse concern in New Orleans for the stated purpose of protecting the people's health. Other slaughterhouse operators barred from their trade brought suit, principally on the ground that they had been deprived of their property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court, with Justice Samuel F. Miller rendering the majority decision, decided against the slaughterhouse operators, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment had to be considered in light of the original purpose of its framers, i.e., to guarantee the freedom of former black slaves. Although the amendment could not be construed to refer only to black slavery, its scope as originally planned did not include rights such as those in question. A distinction was drawn between United States and state citizenship, and it was held that the amendment did not intend to deprive the state of legal jurisdiction over the civil rights of its citizens. The restraint placed by the Louisiana legislators on the slaughterhouse operators was declared not to deprive them of their property without due process.

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