Saenz v. Roe
SCOTUS - 1999
- In 1992, CA enacted a statute limiting the maximum welfare benefits available to newly arrived residents.
- It limited the amount payable to a family that has resided in the state for less than 12 months to the amount payable by the state of the family's prior residence.
- Welfare recipients filed suit asking the law to be found unconstitutional.
- Trial court found for P, law unconstitutional.
- COA affirmed, law unconstitutional.
- SCOTUS affirmed, law unconstitutional.
- Can the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th amendment be used to invalidate a state law?
- The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th amendment may be used to invalidate the state law here since it abridges a fundamental right, the right to travel.
- It has always been held (even in the Slaughterhouse Cases) that the PoIC of the 14th amendment protects an individual's right to travel. With regard to travel, it protects…
- The right to enter one state & leave another;
- The right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than a hostile stranger;
- For those who want to become permanent residents, the right to be treated equally to native born citizens.
- Here, this is the right that is being abridged by the state law.
- Since the right to travel embraces the citizen's right to be treated equally in his new state of residence, the discriminatory classification is itself a penalty.
- These classifications may not be justified by a purpose to deter welfare applicants from migrating to CA.
- There may be a less discriminatory way to get at the problem of high welfare costs.
- The PoIC has not been used to strike down a law, ever. (was used one time but was overruled 5 years later). This does not follow precedent.
- This is a reasonable measure falling under the head of a good-faith residency requirement.
- The majority attributes a meaning to the PoIC that was likely unintended when the 14th amendment was enacted and ratified.
- The Slaughterhouse Cases sapped that clause of all meaning. The majority fails to address the historical underpinnings of the clause.
- I would be open to reevaluating the meaning of the clause in an appropriate case. However, it is obvious that it should not be used to create new rights.