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Scott v. Sanford, also known as the Dred Scott decision, is well-known as a contributing cause to the American Civil War. The decision ruled that as property, an African-American had no right to sue for his/her freedom because African Americans are non-citizens and they had no rights to even appear in court. The Supreme Court also ruled that the banning of slavery, as in the case of the Missouri Compromise line or in a states constitution, was unconstitutional thanks to the 5th Amendment.
The court voted 6-2 in favor, with both justice Curtis and justice McLean dissenting. Curtis wrote in his dissent that once the court had determined that Scott had no right to appear in court, they should have dismissed the case, not ruled further on the claim itself. He also said that overturning the slave-banning clause of the Missouri Compromise and the Northwest Ordinance was totally wrong because none of the founding fathers had objected to either one, and if the guys who wrote the constitution thought banning slavery was constitutionally sound, why was the court able to say different?
On the subject of African-Americans being non-citizens, the dissenters argued that at the time of ratification, five of the original thirteen states allowed blacks to vote, making them members of the United States. They accused the other justices of deciding the case on the basis of race rather than the merits of the law itself.
Below is a link to the dissent I’ve referred to.
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