The Court ruled that slavery could not be banned from the territories, and Taney's decision, carefully structured to be a definitive opinion on slavery, rejected the premise that blacks even had the right to sue in a court of law. He likened slaves to "articles of merchandise," and said that they could not be taken from their masters without due process of law. He said that black men had no rights that white men were legally bound to respect, and that they could not become citizens. As such, Scott's case should not have been heard in the first place. So the Court's ruling, which negated the Missouri Compromise (and, as Abraham Lincoln would point out in his debates with Stephen Douglas, the Kansas-Nebraska Act) essentially said that territories had to be open to slavery, while inscribing race into American jurisprudence.