Con Law Practice Question 1

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Constitutional Law: Individual Rights

In recent years, competition for nursing jobs in State A has increased significantly. Out of concern that its best and brightest new nurses would look for jobs in other states, State A passed a law creating incentives for new nursing graduates to remain in State A. For those nurses graduating in the top 10% of their class, the incentives include a 20% salary bonus in their first year of work and enrollment in a debt repayment assistance program. Furthermore, the new law makes it mandatory for employers in State A to give preference to State A nursing graduates in the application process.

If a nursing graduate from State B, who wants to work in State A, makes a constitutional challenge to the new statute, what is her best argument?

A: State A’s new statute is not substantially related to an important government purpose.

B: State A’s new statute is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

C: State A’s new statute violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV.

D: State A’s new statute violates the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Answer and Explanation

C is correct. The best constitutional challenge to State A’s new statute would be under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV. This clause provides that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, meaning it prohibits discrimination by a state against nonresidents. State laws may not require private sector employers to give hiring preferences to residents of that state. Therefore, the State A statute is unconstitutional because it discriminates against nonresidents of State A.

A is incorrect. This is the standard for intermediate scrutiny, which is used to evaluate a quasi-suspect classification under an equal protection or due process challenge to the law.

B is incorrect. This choice articulates the standard for rational basis review, which is also not applicable here. A state law which discriminates against nonresidents may still be valid if the state has a substantial justification for the difference in treatment. The state must show that nonresidents either cause or are part of the problem, and that there are no less restrictive means to solve the problem.

D is incorrect. The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects attributes of national citizenship. This clause prohibits states from denying their citizens the privileges and immunities of national citizenship.

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