What was the impact of the Fifth Amendment on the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dred Scott case?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Fifth Amendment provided the major rationale for Justice Taney’s ruling that the Missouri Compromise and other laws that restricted slavery in the territories were unconstitutional.

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott was not free as a result of his having been brought on to free soil by his owner.  Scott was claiming that the fact that he had resided in a free state meant that he should be a free man.  In ruling against Scott, the Supreme Court said that Congress could not make any laws that restricted slavery in the territories.  They used the Fifth Amendment to reach that conclusion.  The Fifth Amendment says (among other things) that no person can be deprived of their property without the due process of law.  The Court held that laws like the Missouri Compromise took away people’s right of property (the right to own slaves) without the due process of law. 

Thus, the Fifth Amendment was used in this case to overturn the Missouri Compromise and any similar laws. 

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