Corfield v. Coryell 4 Wash. C.C. 371 (1823) 6 Fed. Case 546 (No. 3,230)

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CORFIELD v. CORYELL 4 Wash. C.C. 371 (1823) 6 Fed. Case 546 (No. 3,230)

The importance of Justice bushrod washington's circuit opinion derives from the fact that it contains the only exposition of Article IV, section 2, prior to the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, that also uses the phrase privileges and immunities. The clause in Article IV declares: "The Citizens of each state shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several states." Corfield arose because the plaintiff's vessel had been condemned under a state law forbidding nonresidents to take shell fish from state waters; in his trespass action, the plaintiff relied upon the privileges and immunities clause. Washington declared, however, that the clause protected only the "fundamental" rights of citizenship, such as the protection of government, the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, the right to move about freely, the right to claim the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus, the right to sue, and the right to vote if qualified. This category did not include the right to exploit the state's oyster beds.

Leonard W. Levy

(see also: Slaughterhouse Cases.)