Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I want to bring up what I think is a misreading of the Dred Scott decision so far on PolySigh. In an Op-ed in this morning's Chicago Tribune, Steven Lubet, a Con Law professor at Northwestern, rightfully argues that George Bush made a huge gaffe in trying to argue that the Dred Scott decision was wrong because the judges claimed the Constitution allowed slavery. Hmmm...funny little thing is, the judges correctly interpreted the Constitution according to Bush's own judicial standards. After all, the Constitution DID allow slavery as a personal property right and did not guarantee citizenship rights to African Americans. Northern abolitionists (today's equivalents would be gay rights advocates) were infuriated and mobilized to elect Lincoln as President resulting in the secession of the South. It wasn't until a CIVIL WAR (remember THAT war?) and the 13th and 14th Amendments which occurred AFTER Scott reached the Supreme Court that slavery as a founding economic and political institution was rendered "unconstitutional". So it is not so clear that Justice Taney decided the case "wrongly" according to the Constitution at the time. Bush, Scalia, Thomas and other "strict constructionists" would have supported the decision then.