Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dred Scott

Today is the 150th anniversary of one of the US Supreme Court's worst decisions, Scott V Sanford.

Tell me again how important stare decisis is.


Anonymous said...

Hey Gary

So what in the world was this case, and why was the decision so bad? I may already know but need a refresher.


Gahrie said...

Dred scott was a slave who was taken by his owner into free territories. After his owner died, Scott filed a court case saying that when his master took him into these terrirtories, he became a free man.

The first travesty was the Supreme Court's ruling that Scott could not file a case in court, because he was not an American citizen. This eventually brought about the 14th Amendment after the Civil War. This Amendment was meant to give citizenship to the former slaves and their children, but has now been interpreted to give citizenship to the children of illegal aliens.

The second travesty was that this decision nullified the Missouri Compromise on the grounds of property rights. Because slaves were property, Congress could not "take" them away by passing a law, which the Missouri Compromise did by preventing the spread of slavery.

The third travesty was the adoption of the idea of substantive due process. This allowed the Supreme Court to strike down the Missouri Compromise, and has been used since to create the whole idea of Constitutional privacy rights, which eventually lead to the even worse Supreme Court decision in Roe V Wade.