Privileges And Immunities

Privileges and Immunities in the United States

Legal benefits flowing from one’s status as a citizen. A privilege is a benefit or an advantage, while an immunity frees a person from an obligation or a penalty. Certain privileges and immunities exist for a person by virtue of his or her citizenship. The U.S. Constitution contains two references to privileges and immunities. Article IV, Section 2, provides that the “Citizens of each State be entitled to the Privileges and Immunities of citizens of the several States.” The purpose of this clause was to ensure that out-of-state citizens receive the same treatment as a state’s own citizens. The clause established parity across the states. The Fourteenth Amendment also provides that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the United States.” This section of the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868, was a specific response to the Black Codes, which in many Southern states had the effect of restoring pre-Civil War conditions of slavery.

See Also

Citizenship (Judicial Function) Due Process of Law (Judicial Function).

Analysis and Relevance

The protection of privileges and immunities was severely limited by the Slaughterhouse Cases (16 Wallace 36: 1873), in which the Supreme Court distinguished between federal and state citizenship. The Court placed most key civil and political rights within the state citizenship category. That limited the privileges and immunities of federal citizenship to such rights as interstate travel, protection while abroad, and participation in federal elections. The protections afforded by federal citizenship through the Fourteenth Amendment have expanded substantially over the years since Slaughterhouse, but the expansion has taken place under the due process and equal protection clauses rather than the privilege and immunities clauses.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Privileges and Immunities from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Privileges and Immunities in the United States

Privileges and Immunities

United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIESThe Constitution’s two privileges and immunities clauses were born of different historical circumstances and inspired by different purposes. Yet they are bound together by more than their textual similarity. Both clauses look to the formation of “a more perfect Union,” both
(read more about Constitutional law entries here).

Some Constitutional Law Popular Entries

Privileges And Immunities: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Privileges And Immunities. This part provides references, in relation to Privileges And Immunities, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Privileges And Immunities by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Privileges And Immunities and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Privileges And Immunities or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Privileges And Immunities and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Privileges And Immunities. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Privileges And Immunities should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Privileges And Immunities when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment