Constitutional Law I, Pages 323–327

United Building & Construction Trades Council v. City of Camden

Supreme Court of the United States, 1984


A municipal ordinance of Camden, New Jersey required that at least 40% of its construction workers be Camden residents. United Building & Construction Trades Council challenged the ordinance as a violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

Procedural History:

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that the ordinance comported with the Privileges and Immunities Clause because it discriminated based on people's municipalities, not their states.


Did the city's ordinance comport with the Privileges and Immunities Clause?


U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.


LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 325Rights are protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause if they are "fundamental" to the promotion of interstate harmony.


  • Public employees, like police officers

  • Quasi-public or private employees that "constitute a peculiar source of the evil at which the statute is aimed."


A city is merely a political subdivision of a state and all of its authority derives therefrom. Therefore, a city cannot discriminate any more than a state could. The Clause should also not be read so literally as to only apply based on state citizenship. A person living out-of-state will necessarily not be in the city, so the ordinance does discriminate against citizens of other states.

However, not all discrimination against citizens of other states is unconstitutional. Only those "fundamental" to the promotion of interstate harmony. This ordinance does not concern public employment, but private employees. While the city is spending its own money, this would still affect workers' ability to seek employment with private construction companies.

The city claims that this ordinance is necessary to counteract its economic downfall caused by non-Camden residents taking the residents' jobs. This ordinance is limited enough in scope that this may be a sufficient justification, but it cannot be evaluated here. No trial or fact findings have been done in this case on which to judge.


No, the ordinance violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause, although facts may justify its violation. Reversed and remanded.