The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and an Originalist Defense of Gender Nondiscrimination

47 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017  

M. Frances Rooney

Georgetown University, Law Center, Students

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides a constitutional right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender. Original public meaning originalism provides the structure to find that the clause includes a right to practice a lawful profession that extends to all citizens, irrespective of gender. The clause is a guarantee of rights to every “citizen of the United States,” not every male citizen; because of that, the clause is a positive grant of rights to all citizens in the United States.

The central thesis of this Note is that women who are citizens of the United States have rights guaranteed by the Privileges or Immunities Clause, specifically the right to practice a profession. This right cannot be denied on the basis of gender, because adult women have the same capacity as men to practice law. Had this been recognized in 1873, the time The Slaughter-House Cases and Bradwell v. Illinois were decided, and had the erroneous interpretation of the clause in Slaughter-House not prevailed, Bradwell would have recognized this right. Given the contemporary knowledge of the capacities of women and an originalist approach to constitutional interpretation and construction, the decision in Bradwell should be overruled. Taking this step would lead to the development of an originalist gender equality jurisprudence.

Suggested Citation

Rooney, M. Frances, The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and an Originalist Defense of Gender Nondiscrimination (2017). Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2961578

M. Frances Rooney (Contact Author)

Georgetown University, Law Center, Students ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

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