Facts of the Case
Myra Bradwell asserted her right to a license to practice law in Illinois by virtue of her status as a United States citizen. The judges of the Illinois Supreme Court denied her application with only one judge dissenting.
Is the right to obtain a license to practice law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to all citizens of the United States?
No. While the Court agreed that all citizens enjoy certain privileges and immunities which individual states cannot take away, it did not agree that the right to practice law in a state's courts is one of them. There was no agreement, argued Justice Miller, that this right depended on citizenship. In his concurrence, Justice Bradley went above and beyond the constitutional explanations of the case to describe the reasons why it was natural and proper for women to be excluded from the legal profession. He cited the importance of maintaining the "respective spheres of man and woman," with women performing the duties of motherhood and wife in accordance with the "law of the Creator."
Federalist Society Review, Volume 22
The 14th Amendment meaningfully protects economic liberty. While this protection was originally housed in the...