Fourteenth Amendment: Privileges and Immunities (1868)

This amendment prohibits the states from abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens. It echoes the language of Article IV, Section 2, which says that the citizens of all states are equal. It also echoes the language from Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) which used the phrase “privileges and immunities” more than twenty times.

The Privileges and Immunities Clause—and what exactly the privileges and immunities of citizens are—has been the topic of much debate. Justice Hugo Black argued that the phrase refers to all Bill of Rights protections, though the Court has not adopted this view. Other theories include that the clause only means that states must act with fundamental fairness and are prohibited from actions that shock the conscience.