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What is the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution?

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Quick Answer

The Constitution's Privileges and Immunities Clause says that no state may discriminate against non-residents of that state in its policies. The clause's name is derived from the idea that in any given state, a resident and a non-resident are entitled to the same privileges and immunities granted by state law.

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Full Answer

The Privileges and Immunities Clause is located in the fourth article of the Constitution, wherein it specifies that the clause refers primarily to "fundamental rights," the Cornell University Law School explains. This idea was added to the document as a means to protect a person's individual rights as a citizen of the United States of America, rather than have a situation where a person's liberties might fluctuate just as a result of his physical location.

The Privileges and Immunities Clause has been clarified and defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in several cases, notably The Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Piper. In this case, Piper, a law student from Vermont, passed the bar exam in New Hampshire, only to be told that the license was available only to residents of New Hampshire. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, who then held that a U.S. citizen has a fundamental right to take the exam and acquire a license practice law, and the state's policy was ruled unconstitutional.

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