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.203 It may require a nonresident who does business within the state204 or who uses the highways of the state205 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 non-resident to lands of which the husband died seized while giving a resident dower in all lands held during the marriage,206 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.207 But a state may not give a preference to resident creditors in the administration of the property of an insolvent foreign corporation.208 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.209

Footnotes

203
La Tourette v. McMaster, 248 U.S. 465 (1919). [Back to text]
204
Doherty & Co. v. Goodman, 294 U.S. 623 (1935). [Back to text]
205
Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352, 356 (1927). [Back to text]
206
Ferry v. Spokane, P. & S. Ry., 258 U.S. 314 (1922), followed in Ferry v. Corbett, 258 U.S. 609 (1922). [Back to text]
207
Conner v. Elliott, 59 U.S. (18 How.) 591, 593 (1856). [Back to text]
208
Blake v. McClung, 172 U.S. 239, 248 (1898). [Back to text]
209
Williams v. Bruffy, 96 U.S. 176, 184 (1878). [Back to text]