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The Slaughterhouse Cases


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About the Author

Ronald M. Labbe is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Jonathan Lurie is professor of history and adjunct professor of law at Rutgers University. Labbe and Lurie received the prestigious Scribes Book Award given by the American Society for Legal Writers for the original edition of this book.


Labbe, an expert on Louisiana law, and Lurie (history & law, Rutgers Univ.) examine an 1869 enactment of the Louisiana legislature that was contested in the state's lower courts and ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. This enactment called for all of the slaughterhouses in New Orleans to be consolidated and relocated to a cleaner location; the city's butchers roundly protested, citing in defense the Fourteenth Amendment. Ordinarily, such issues would be simple matters of economics and government regulation, but the dispute took place during the Reconstruction, a time of radical political change. The authors adeptly explain the historical ramifications and legal implications of the legal challenge launched by the butchers, focusing on twin aspects central to the resolution of the dispute: the forceful and activist role of Associate Justice Samuel F. Miller in reasserting a stronger sense of the Supreme Court's pivotal role in the federal government, as well as the new imperative by 1873 to address controversial issues of constitutional law arising from the recent passage of the so-called Reconstruction Amendments. The authors' comprehensive analysis makes up a critical chapter in the ongoing evolution of constitutional protections and rights of U.S. citizens. Highly recommended for academic, law, and public libraries.-Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., First Judicial Dist., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Praise for the original edition

Labbe and Lurie have painted, with graceful style, a magnificent panorama of a key episode of nineteenth-century legal history. . . . From their vivid description of the public health hazards afflicting nineteenth-century New Orleans to their superb chapter surveying the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Chase, this is compellingly readable history.--Journal of American HistoryThe authors have done a remarkable job unraveling the complex threads of this intriguing legal history.--Louisiana History
An outstanding and illuminating book, deeply researched and beautifully written.--Lawrence M. Friedman, author of A History of American Law

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