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Dred Scott Reconsidered? - Squint your eyes and look closer...
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Tue, Sep. 25th, 2007 08:30 pm
Dred Scott Reconsidered?

Dr. Paul Finkelman of Albany Law School in New York will present this year’s Constitution Day lecture, “Was Dred Scott Correctly Decided?” on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in Blount Auditorium.

Are you for serious?

Was Dred Scott Correctly Decided? Is this a question that's really worth asking? To pull from Wikipedia, in the Dred Scott case, "[t]he court ruled seven to two against Scott, finding that neither he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States, and that Scott could not therefore bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott's sojourn outside of Missouri did not effect his emanicipation under the Missouri Compromise, since reaching that result would deprive Scott's owner of his property."

I mean, i realize this lecture is taking place in Tennessee, but i figured by now even they'd cop to the fact that perhaps that whole people as property thing was a mistake.

My problem isn't really with the question, though. I fully support questioning. And based on the professor's other work, i'm presuming he's going to reach the crazy conclusion that, yes, the Dred Scott case was incorrectly decided. But doesn't it seem to be cheating, a little, to start with such an absurd premise that the question answers itself?

Current Music: Bright Eyes - Lua

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thomasirvin
thomasirvin
Thomas Irvin
Wed, Sep. 26th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)

Don't I remember correctly, though, that at the time of Dred Scott the Court hadn't ruled anything unconstitutional since Marbury? So basically they were saying "given the existing laws, this guy isn't entitled to any rights." So under that rubric, the question is whether that was in fact the state of the law at the time.

Then again, I only got a B- in Con Law. I could be very off here.


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devonbree
devonbree
p d b g
Wed, Sep. 26th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)

I suspect he's very serious. I'm not a student of the law so I'm at a severe disadvantage here, but the question does seem that absurd to me.

Gotta agree with thomasirvin. I presume that it isn't a question of the rightness or wrongness of slavery that Finkelman is considering. Wouldn't it be a question of the "correctness" of the specific court decision in light of the laws and precedents of the time, prior to the 13th and 14th ammendments?

If the lecture is to be in any way interesting, Finkelman would need to make a case that the decision should have gone the other way even under the biased framework of antebellum America, perhaps with consideration of the politically-motivated actions of the majority in the Taney court. I'd be curious what sort of historical-legal argument Finkelman is planning to make.


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devonbree
devonbree
p d b g
Wed, Sep. 26th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)

"does _not_ seem that absurd to me"

Sorry, not proofreading well this morning.


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besideserato
besideserato
Friday Nation
Thu, Sep. 27th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)

WTF?!


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schnook13
schnook13
schnook13
Fri, Sep. 28th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)

Could it in anyway turn into a backhanded way of trying to say that the originalist interpretation of the constitution practiced by Clarence Thomas and his pals on the SCOTUS is stupid? As in, if we do everything as the founding fathers said, we'd still have slavery? It's a living document, people.

Did you read that article about John Paul Stevens in the Times? He's a cool guy.


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