SUPREME COURT OF N.H. V. PIPER, 470 U. S. 274 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court of N.H. v. Piper, 470 U.S. 274 (1985)

Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Piper

No. 83-1466

Argued October 31, 1984

Decided March 4, 1985

470 U.S. 274


Appellee, a resident of Vermont, was allowed to take, and passed, the New Hampshire bar examination. But pursuant to Rule 42 of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which limits bar admission to state residents, she was not permitted to be sworn in. After the New Hampshire Supreme Court denied appellee's request that an exception to the Rule be made in her case, she filed an action in Federal District Court, alleging that Rule 42 violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, § 2, of the United States Constitution. The District Court agreed, and granted appellee's motion for a summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Rule 42 violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, § 2. Pp. 470 U. S. 279-288.

(a) Derived, like the Commerce Clause, from the fourth of the Articles of Confederation, the Privileges and Immunities Clause was intended to create a national economic union.

"[O]ne of the privileges which the Clause guarantees to citizens of State A is that of doing business in State B on terms of substantial equality with the citizens of that State."

Toomer v. Witsell, 334 U. S. 385, 396. Moreover, although a lawyer is "an officer of the court," he does not hold a position that can be entrusted only to a "full-fledged member of the political community" and thus is not an "officer" of the State in any political sense. In re Griffiths, 413 U. S. 717. Therefore, a nonresident's interest in practicing law is a "privilege" protected by the Clause. Pp. 470 U. S. 279-283.

(b) A State may discriminate against nonresidents only where its reasons are "substantial" and the difference in treatment bears a close or substantial relationship to those reasons. None of the reasons offered by appellant for its refusal to admit nonresidents to the bar -- nonresidents would be less likely to keep abreast of local rules and procedures, to behave ethically, to be available for court proceedings, and to do pro bono and other volunteer work in the State -- meets the test of "substantiality," and the means chosen do not bear the necessary relationship to the State's objectives. Pp. 470 U. S. 284-287.

723 F.2d 110, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ.,

Page 470 U. S. 275

joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 470 U. S. 288. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 470 U. S. 289.

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