The Right to Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

States have responded to the novel COVID-19 pandemic by restricting interstate travel through mandatory quarantines. These actions may have violated the right to travel protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Generally, each state’s action did not implicate the Privileges and Immunities Clause because the quarantine requirement applied to residents and non-residents equally. Additionally, the states’ actions would still be constitutional even if they implicated the right to travel because stopping COVID-19 through a reasonable quarantine is a compelling state interest. However, if future actions unreasonably restrict interstate travel in response to COVID-19, then those acts would violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause. These conclusions will be impacted as state actions become less or more reasonable over time, or by the distribution of vaccines.