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Discrimination in Private Rights

Discrimination in Private Rights

Not only has judicial construction of the comity clause excluded certain privileges of a public nature from its protection, but the courts also have established the proposition that the purely private and personal rights to which the clause admittedly extends are not in all cases beyond the reach of state legislation which differentiates citizens and noncitizens. Broadly speaking, these rights are held subject to the reasonable exercise by a State of its police power, and the Court has recognized that there are cases in which discrimination against nonresidents may be reasonably resorted to by a State in aid of its own public health, safety and welfare. To that end a State may reserve the right to sell insurance to persons who have resided within the State for a prescribed period of time.196 It may require a nonresident who does business within the State197 or who uses the highways of the State198 to consent, expressly or by implication, to service of process on an agent within the State. Without violating this section, a State may limit the dower rights of a nonresident to lands of which the husband died seized while giving a resident dower in all lands held during the marriage,199 or may leave the rights of nonresident married persons in respect of property within the State to be governed by the laws of their domicile, rather than by the laws it promulgates for its own residents.200 But a State may not give a preference to resident creditors in the administration of the property of an insolvent foreign corporation.201 An act of the Confederate Government, enforced by a State, to sequester a debt owed by one of its residents to a citizen of another State was held to be a flagrant violation of this clause.202

196 LaTourette v. McMaster, 248 U.S. 465 (1919).

197 Doherty & Co. v. Goodman, 294 U.S. 623 (1935).

198 Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352, 356 (1927).

199 Ferry v. Spokane P. & S. Ry., 258 U.S. 314 (1922), followed in Ferry v. Corbett, 258 U.S. 609 (1922).

200 Conner v. Elliott, 59 U.S. (18 How.) 591, 593 (1856).

201 Blake v. McClung, 172 U.S. 239, 248 (1898).

202 Williams v. Bruffy, 96 U.S. 176, 184 (1878).

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Last modified: June 9, 2014