Monday, October 25, 2004

The Supreme Court

The composition of the Supreme Court should be one of the top three issues of any voters. Today's news about Rehnquist brings that front and center. Read some excellent articles here, here and here.

4 comments:

Ghost Dansing said...
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Ghost Dansing said...
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Ghost Dansing said...

Maybe my original comments were too heady.

Scott, born a slave, had been taken by his master, an army surgeon, into the free portion of the Louisiana territory. Upon his master's death, Scott sued for his freedom, on the grounds that since slavery was outlawed in the free territory, he had become a free man there, and "once free always free." The argument was rejected by a Missouri court, but Scott and his white supporters managed to get the case into federal court, where the issue was simply whether a slave had standing -- that is, the legal right -- to sue in a federal court. So the first question the Supreme Court had to decide was whether it had jurisdiction. If Scott had standing, then the Court had jurisdiction, and the justices could go on to decide the merits of his claim. But if, as a slave, Scott did not have standing, then the Court could dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

The Court ruled that Scott, as a slave, could not exercise the prerogative of a free citizen to sue in federal court. That should have been the end of the case, but Chief Justice Taney and the other southern sympathizers on the Court hoped that a definitive ruling would settle the issue of slavery in the territories once and for all. So they went on to rule that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional since Congress could not forbid citizens from taking their property, i.e., slaves, into any territory owned by the United States. A slave, Taney ruled, was property, nothing more, and could never be a citizen.

The South, of course, welcomed the ruling, but in the North it raised a storm of protest and scorn. It helped create the Republican Party, and disgust at the decision may have played a role in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Modern Republicans like non-activist Judges, like Chief Justice Taney, that maintain the status quo regardless of true Consitutional considerations.

STCA said...

Yes, Ghost, most of your comments are heady and seldom are they your own. I took a sample of your comments and googled them and they were not written by you but by columnists.

The Scott decision was horrible. Have you taken constitutional law? I would love to discuss other cases with you to show that actually liberal judges hurt minority communities in cases of iminent domain, districting and quotas. If you want to discuss it I will..but don't post stolen writings.

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