Does the 14th Amendment Protect Economic Liberty?


As Brian Doherty recently reported, the upcoming Supreme Court gun rights case McDonald v. Chicago has caused a number of conservative legal outfits to criticize the strategy employed by lead attorney Alan Gura, who seeks to nullify Chicago's draconian handgun ban by getting the Court to restore the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment and overturn the disastrous Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873 (which upheld a Louisiana slaughterhouse monopoly and gutted the Privileges or Immunities Clause).

Writing in today's Washington Times, Ken Klukowski and Ken Blackwell of the conservative American Civil Rights Union reveal why some folks on the right are so nervous:

What's so important about [Slaughterhouse] is that there's nothing in the Constitution about such an economic right. Had the court accepted the butchers' argument and struck down the Louisiana law, federal courts would have the power to declare anything they want to be a right of U.S. citizenship and strike down any state or local law they don't like.

Of course, there is something in the Constitution about "such an economic right." It's called the Privileges or Immunities Clause, which was specifically written and ratified to protect the civil, political, and economic rights of the recently freed slaves and their white allies from abuse by the former Confederate states. As the historical record clearly shows, that included the right to armed self-defense, the right to free speech, the right to own property, and the right to earn an honest living free from unnecessary and arbitrary state abuse. Under the 14th Amendment, no state shall abridge those rights. That's why Slaughterhouse deserves to die.