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The Slaughter-House Cases

The Slaughter-House Cases were a series of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that considered the extent to which the Fourteenth Amendment placed limits on the states’ legislative powers. While the majority of the court interpreted the amendment narrowly, Justice Stephen J. Field’s dissenting opinion argued that the amendment protected individuals from state legislation that infringed upon their “privileges and immunities” under the federal Constitution. Field’s dissenting opinion is often seen as an important step toward the modern doctrine of substantive due process, a theory that the Court has developed to defend rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution.
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