United Building & Construction Trades Council v. Mayor and Council of Camden

Last updated
United Building & Construction Trades Council v. Mayor and Council of Camden
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 28, 1983
Decided February 21, 1984
Full case nameUnited Building & Construction Trades Council of Camden County and Vicinity v. Mayor and Council of the City of Camden, et al.
Citations465 U.S. 208 ( more )
104 S. Ct. 1020; 79 L. Ed. 2d 249; 1984 U.S. LEXIS 26; 52 U.S.L.W. 4187; 100 Lab. Cas. (CCH) ¶ 55,437; 33 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) ¶ 34,151
Prior historyOn certiorari from the Supreme Court of New Jersey
Subsequent historyReversed and remanded
A city can pressure private employers to hire city residents, but the same exercise of power to bias private contractors against out-of-state residents may be called into account under Privileges & Immunities clause.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr.  · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall  · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr.  · William Rehnquist
John P. Stevens  · Sandra Day O'Connor
Case opinions
MajorityRehnquist, joined by Burger, Brennan, White, Marshall, Powell, Stevens, O’Connor
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Art. IV, § 2, cl. 1

United Building & Construction Trades Council v. Mayor and Council of Camden, 465 U.S. 208 (1984), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a city can pressure private employers to hire city residents, but the same exercise of power to bias private contractors against out-of-state residents may be called into account under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article Four of the United States Constitution.

Supreme Court of the United States Highest court in the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, including suits between two or more states and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about one hundred to one hundred fifty of the more than seven thousand cases that it is asked to review.

Privileges and Immunities Clause

The Privileges and Immunities Clause prevents a state from treating citizens of other states in a discriminatory manner. Additionally, a right of interstate travel may plausibly be inferred from the clause.

Article Four of the United States Constitution Portion of the US Constitution regarding states

Article Four of the United States Constitution outlines the relationship between the various states, as well as the relationship between each state and the United States federal government. It also empowers Congress to admit new states and administer the territories and other federal lands.


Facts and procedural history

A municipal ordinance of the city of Camden, New Jersey, required at least 40% of the employees of contractors and subcontractors working on city construction projects to be Camden residents. In November 1980, the city initiated administrative procedures with the Chief Affirmative Action Officer of the New Jersey Treasury Department to gain state approval for the ordinance as an affirmative action program. When the Affirmative Action Officer approved the ordinance, the plaintiff trade union filed a notice of appeal with the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. The New Jersey Supreme Court then certified the appeal onto its own docket, in order to decide all the issues in the case.

A local ordinance is a law for a political division smaller than a state or nation, i.e., a local government such as a municipality, county, parish, prefecture, etc.

Camden, New Jersey City in New Jersey, United States

Camden is a city and the county seat of Camden County, New Jersey, United States. Camden is located directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 77,344. Camden is the 12th most populous municipality in New Jersey. The city was incorporated on February 13, 1828. Camden has been the county seat of Camden County since the county was formed on March 13, 1844. The city derives its name from Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden. Camden is made up of over twenty different neighborhoods.

The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division is the appellate court in New Jersey. "The Appellate Division of New Jersey's Superior Court is the first level appellate court, with appellate review authority over final judgments of the trial divisions and the Tax Court and over final decisions and actions of State administrative agencies." Above the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division is the Supreme Court of New Jersey which "sits alone atop the State judiciary, entertaining appeals from the Appellate Division and, on rare occasions, directly by order of the Court from other cases within the judicial and administrative system."

The New Jersey Supreme Court held first that the ordinance did not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause because the city was acting as a market participant. It further held that the Privileges and Immunities Clause did not apply to the ordinance because the discrimination was based on municipal, not state, residency.

The Dormant Commerce Clause, or Negative Commerce Clause, in American constitutional law, is a legal doctrine that courts in the United States have inferred from the Commerce Clause in Article I of the US Constitution. The Dormant Commerce Clause is used to prohibit state legislation that discriminates against interstate or international commerce.

The term market participant is another term for economic agent, an actor and more specifically a decision maker in a model of some aspect of the economy. For example, buyers and sellers are two common types of agents in partial equilibrium models of a single market. The term market participant is also used in United States constitutional law to describe a U.S. State which is acting as a producer or supplier of a marketable good or service.

Majority opinion

Justice Rehnquist, writing for the majority, held first that the fact that Camden adopted the discriminatory ordinance in its capacity as a municipality does not render it immune from review under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Secondly, he held that even though the ordinance discriminates against New Jerseyans who are not Camden residents just as much as it discriminates against out-of-state citizens, New Jersey citizens at least have the chance to remedy the problem through the political process (the state legislature). Out-of-state residents have no such option.

William Rehnquist Chief Justice of the United States

William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States for 33 years, first as an Associate Justice from 1972 to 1986, and then as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2005. Considered a conservative, Rehnquist favored a conception of federalism that emphasized the Tenth Amendment's reservation of powers to the states. Under this view of federalism, the court, for the first time since the 1930s, struck down an act of Congress as exceeding its power under the Commerce Clause.

New Jersey Legislature the legislature of the U.S. state of New Jersey

The New Jersey Legislature is the legislative branch of the government of the U.S. state of New Jersey. In its current form, as defined by the New Jersey Constitution of 1947, the Legislature consists of two houses: the General Assembly and the Senate. The Legislature meets in the New Jersey State House, in the state capital of Trenton. Democrats currently hold super majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

Rehnquist also formulated a framework for analysis for Privileges and Immunities claims. First, the Court must decide whether the law in question burdens any of the privileges or immunities protected by the clause. Rehnquist held that an out-of-state resident's interest in employment on public works contracts was "'fundamental' to the promotion of interstate harmony" and therefore protected by the clause.

Rehnquist distinguished the Privileges and Immunities from the Dormant Commerce Clause by explaining that while the Dormant Commerce Clause is a judicially created doctrine to prevent economic protectionism, the Privileges & Immunities Clause is an actual Constitutional text to protect people’s rights. Thus, since the clauses have two distinct purposes, the “market participant” exception did not apply to the Privileges and Immunities analysis. Camden could pressure public works contractors to hire city residents without running afoul of the Dormant Commerce Clause, but this did not allow the city to escape scrutiny under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. However, Rehnquist went on to explain that the Privileges and Immunities Clause did not bar all potentially discriminatory acts by a state or political subdivision.

Protectionism economic policy of restraining trade between states through government regulations

Protectionism is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations. Proponents claim that protectionist policies shield the producers, businesses, and workers of the import-competing sector in the country from foreign competitors. However, they also reduce trade and adversely affect consumers in general, and harm the producers and workers in export sectors, both in the country implementing protectionist policies, and in the countries protected against.

The city of Camden argued that its ordinance was intended to remedy its urban decay high unemployment, a decline in the city's tax base, and "middle-class flight" from the city. The city argued further that the ordinance was meant to keep a certain number of jobs within the city itself, without unduly harming those potential employees who were non-residents. Rehnquist held that even though Camden's justification of the ordinance was acceptable and that the ordinance was properly tailored to reduce the impact of the discrimination, there were inadequate findings of fact upon which to determine whether the ordinance was constitutional. He remanded the case back to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Urban decay Sociological process affecting cities

Urban decay is the sociological process by which a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. It may feature deindustrialization, depopulation or deurbanization, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings and infrastructure, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and a desolate cityscape, known as greyfield or urban prairie. Since the 1970s and 1980s, urban decay has been associated with Western cities, especially in North America and parts of Europe. Since then, major structural changes in global economies, transportation, and government policy created the economic and then the social conditions resulting in urban decay.

Unemployment when people are without work and actively seeking work

Unemployment or joblessness is a situation in which the able bodied people who are looking for a jobcannot find a job.

A tax is a mandatory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed upon a taxpayer by a governmental organization in order to fund various public expenditures. A failure to pay, along with evasion of or resistance to taxation, is punishable by law. Taxes consist of direct or indirect taxes and may be paid in money or as its labour equivalent.

Dissenting opinion

Justice Blackmun was the sole dissenter in the case. He rejected Rehnquist's assertion that discrimination based on municipal residence could not escape scrutiny under the Privileges and Immunities Clause because both in-state and out-of-state citizens could be equally harmed by such protectionist legislation. He also wrote that the Clause was never intended by the Framers of the Constitution to reach this type of discrimination by municipalities. Finally, he believed that out-of-state residents could benefit indirectly from the political action of in-state residents' opposition to such discriminatory measures by municipalities because some states (California and Georgia) had already passed laws prohibiting exactly the type of protectionist ordinances as the one in this case.

See also

Related Research Articles

A Congressional power of enforcement is included in a number of amendments to the United States Constitution. The language "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation" is used, with slight variations, in Amendments XIII, XIV, XV, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, and XXVI. The variations in the pertinent language are as follows: The Thirteenth Amendment leaves out the word "the", the Fourteenth Amendment states "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." In addition to the amendments above, the Eighteenth Amendment states "The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case dealing with sexual orientation and state laws. It was the first Supreme Court case to address gay rights since Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), when the Court had held that laws criminalizing sodomy were constitutional.

Equal Protection Clause Guarantee of law protecting all persons equally in the United States

The Equal Protection Clause is a clause within the text of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "nor shall any State [...] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

Incorporation, in United States law, is the doctrine by which portions of the Bill of Rights have been made applicable to the states. When the Bill of Rights was ratified, courts held that its protections only extended to the actions of the federal government and that the Bill of Rights did not place limitations on the authority of state and local governments. However, the post-Civil War era, beginning in 1865 with the Thirteenth Amendment, which declared the abolition of slavery, gave rise to the incorporation of other Amendments, providing more rights to the states and people over time. Gradually, various portions of the Bill of Rights have been held to be applicable to state and local governments by incorporation through the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 and the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870.

City of Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617 (1978), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that states could not discriminate against another state's articles of commerce.

Privileges or Immunities Clause

The Privileges or Immunities Clause is Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. Along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, this clause became part of the Constitution on July 9, 1868.

Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corp., 450 U.S. 662 (1981), was a United States Supreme Court case involving the application of the Dormant Commerce Clause to an Iowa state statute restricting the length of tractor-trailers.

Sáenz v. Roe, 526 U.S. 489 (1999), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States discussed whether there is a constitutional right to travel from one state to another.

Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin, 340 U.S. 349 (1951), was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with the Dormant Commerce Clause.

C&A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown, New York, 511 U.S. 383 (1994), was a case before the United States Supreme Court in which the plaintiff, a private recycler with business in Clarkstown, New York, sought to ship its non-recyclable waste to cheaper waste processors out-of-state. Clarkstown opposed the move, and the company then brought suit, raising the unconstitutionality of Clarkstown's "flow control ordinance," which required solid wastes that were not recyclable or hazardous to be deposited at a particular private company's transfer facility. The ordinance involved fees that were above market rates. The Supreme Court sided with the plaintiff, concluding that Clarkstown's ordinance violated the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721 (2003), was a United States Supreme Court case which held that the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 was "narrowly targeted" at "sex-based overgeneralization" and was thus a "valid exercise of [congressional] power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Oregon Waste Systems, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Quality of Oregon, 511 U.S. 93 (1994), is a United States Supreme Court decision focused on the aspect of state power and the interpretation of the Commerce Clause as a limitation on states' regulatory power. In this particular case, the Supreme Court considered whether the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's alleged cost-based surcharge on the disposal of out-of-state waste violated the dormant commerce clause.

Chemical Waste Management, Inc. v. Hunt, 504 U.S. 334 (1992), was a United States Supreme Court case that held that an Alabama law imposing a fee on out-of-state hazardous waste being disposed of in-state violated the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Department of Revenue of Kentucky v. Davis, 553 U.S. 328 (2008), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a Kentucky law that provides a preferential tax break to Kentucky residents who invest in bonds issued by the state and its municipalities. The Court held in a 7-2 vote that the State of Kentucky does not engage in unconstitutional discrimination against interstate commerce by exempting the interest on its bonds from residents' taxable income while taxing the interest earned on the bonds of other states. The case has national implications because thirty-six (36) states have tax schemes similar to the one at issue in Kentucky.

Hughes v. Oklahoma, 441 U.S. 322 (1979), was a United States Supreme Court decision, which held that the United States Congress may enact legislation governing wildlife on federal lands.

Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne, 575 U.S. ___ (2015), is a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision which applied the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine to Maryland's personal income tax scheme and found that the failure to provide a full credit for income taxes paid to other states was unconstitutional.

McBurney v. Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld Virginia and all states' right to restrict Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to citizens. The court rejected claims that this restriction is in violation of Privileges or Immunities Clause because FOIA requests are not a "fundamental" privilege or immunity of citizenship. The court also upheld that Virginia FOIA does not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause. The "common thread" among this Court’s dormant Commerce Clause cases is that the State interfered with the natural functioning of the interstate market either through prohibition or thorough burdensome regulation. Virginia’s FOIA, by contrast, neither prohibits access to an interstate market nor imposes burdensome regulation on that market.