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1873: Slaughterhouse Revisited

1873: Slaughterhouse Revisited

XVIII. 1873: Slaughterhouse Revisited
A Community Built on Words
University of Chicago Press

Perhaps no decision of the Supreme Court that is not perceived as morally evil in its result has been the subject of so much criticism as the Slaughterhouse Cases. The Court's holding—that the state of Louisiana did not violate the Constitution of the United States by granting the Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company a monopoly over the operation of slaughterhouses within the city and environs of New Orleans—is seldom the object of great interest. What excites widespread censure are the constitutional misdeeds the Court allegedly committed in coming to its judgment. The central items of the usual bill of particulars are the assertion that the Court eviscerated the privileges or immunities clause of section 1 of the fourteenth amendment by giving it so narrow a construction that it has since been of virtually no practical importance, and that the Court manifested a fundamental hostility toward the Civil War amendments that led eventually to the judicial dismantling of Reconstruction and Plessy v. Ferguson's tragic approval of Jim Crow segregation, judicial misdeeds that indefinitely delayed implementation of the nation's promise of freedom and equality to African Americans.

Keywords:   Slaughterhouse Cases, constitutional misdeeds, fourteenth amendment, African Americans, freedom and equality, judicial misdeeds, Jim Crow segregation

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