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Hicklin v. Orbeck

Many States, One Nation

When the Supreme Court decided to hear this case, they began by looking at a clause from Article IV, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution: "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." To explain this clause further, Justice Brennan quoted an 1869 Supreme Court case. The purpose of the clause, he wrote, is:

. . . to place the citizens of each State upon the same footing with citizens of other States . . . It has been justly said that no provision in the constitution has tended so strongly to constitute the citizens of the United States one people as this.

Therefore, Justice Brennan explained, the Supreme Court had unanimously decided to strike down Alaska Hire. Even without the one-year residency requirement, giving this kind of preferential treatment to Alaska residents was unconstitutional.

Brennan went on to explain the Court's reasoning in more detail. He acknowledged that a state might be justified in restricting employment to residents if nonresidents were the reason for the employment problem. Everyone agreed that Alaska had a "uniquely high" unemployment rate. Certainly the state was entitled to address it.

However, Brennan continued, the reason for Alaska's unemployment had nothing to do with nonresidents coming in and taking jobs away from local people. Rather, according to a report by the Federal Field Committee for Development Planning in Alaska, the state's unemployment problem came from very different sources:

Those who need the jobs the most tend to be undereducated, untrained, or living in areas of the state remote from job opportunities. Unless unemployed residents--most of whom are Eskimos and Indians--have access to job markets and receive the education and training required to fit them into Alaska's increasingly technological economy . . . new jobs will continue to be filled by persons from other states who have the necessary qualifications.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Hicklin v. Orbeck - Significance, Work For Residents Only, Many States, One Nation, Whose Resources Are They?