You think Supreme Court rulings are always correct? You think that there are not times when we need to throw these old horses out and get a new view? Perhaps a view that has something to do with the Constitution? Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist are the only three on the bench now who I think have ever even read the Constitution.

Dred Scott was an African-American slave. He was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin. When the Army ordered his master to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him back to that slave state, where his master died. In 1846, Scott was helped by Abolitionist lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, claiming he should be free since he had lived on free soil for such a long time. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, was a former slave owner from Maryland.

In March of 1857, Scott lost his case as seven out of nine Justices declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.

At that time there were nearly 4 million slaves in America. The court's ruling affected the status of every one of those 4 million people. The ruling served to turn back the clock concerning the rights of African-Americans, ignoring the fact that black men in five of the original States had been full voting citizens dating back to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

My fellow Southerners enjoyed the Dred Scott decision, believing Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories, regardless of the Missouri Compromise. Abraham Lincoln reacted with disgust to the ruling, and you could probably say the Dred Scott decision had the effect of making a bad situation worse and having a lot to do with what started the Civil War.

I am interested in this case because Antonin Scalia brought it up, along with Korematsu in the recent Stenberg vs. Carhart case, concerning partial-birth abortions. He said this decision ranked right up there with Dred Scott and Korematsu. I won't argue with a guy who's way smarter than I'll ever be.

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