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Supreme Court Discusses Right to Travel

The right to travel has been upheld in several Supreme Court decisions, but its source has not been identified. Non-residents' right to equal treatment is protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV absent a "substantial reason" to treat them differently.
New arrivals' right to equal treatment is also protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which entitles residents of a state citizenship of that state as well as of the United States. Strict scrutiny, not some form of intermediate scrutiny, is appropriate for discrimination against new citizens. A California measure prescribing lower welfare payments for recent immigrants from states with lower welfare benefits does not pass this scrutiny. Neither the duration of state residence nor the location of prior residence has any relevance to citizens' need for benefits or equitable allocation of funds; the state's fiscal justification therefore fails. Congress's approval of durational residency requirements makes no difference, since Congress cannot authorize states to violate the Fourteenth Amendment, and in any case the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment binds federal as well as state governments.

This opinion does not rely on the Equal Protection Clause, but its evaluation of the statute's classifications is in substance an equal protection analysis. See: Saenz v. Roe, 119 S.Ct. 1518 (1999).

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Related legal case

Saenz v. Roe