This landmark case helped to establish the 'right' to interstate migration. Plaintiff Edwards brought suit to challenge the constitutionality of a California which criminalized knowingly bringing an indigent (impoverished) non-resident person into the state of California. The court found this to be an unconstitutional barrier to interstate commerce and struck the statute down as unconstitutional.

Justice Jackson wrote a concurring opinion, because even though he agreed with the outcome of the ruling, he disagreed with the reasoning behind it. Jackson did not believe that the law was unconstitutional on the basis that it interfered with interstate commerce, but because it violated the privileges and immunities clause of the fourteenth amendment. He noted in his concurring opinion that to strike the statute down on the basis of commerce would result in either the “distorting of commercial law or in denaturing human rights.”