Facts: This lawsuit involves Dred Scott, an African American slave and his owner due to the passing of his previous owner Dr. Emerson, John F. A. Sanford. John F. A Sanford is the brother to the wife of Dr. Emerson. Dred Scott sued for his freedom in the Missouri Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis on April 6, 1846.
Dred Scott’s legal suit is for assault and false imprisonment: “A slave could be punished and kept as property, but a free person could not. From 1833 to 1843, he lived in the free state of in Illinois and in a part of the Louisiana Territory, where slavery was prohibited by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The Missouri compromise controlled slavery in the western territories by prohibiting slavery in the former Louisiana Territory which was north of the parallel 36°30′ north, except in the borders of the Missouri territory which was a proposed state.
After returning to Missouri, Scott filed a law suit for his freedom, arguing that because of his residence in a free territory, he was considered a free man . Scott then escalated the suit to federal court. He was now represented by lawyer Roswell M. Field. The jury ruled in favor of Sanford and declared Scott still a slave. His lawyer then appealed to the U. S Supreme Court. The question has been raised regarding the case asking if Dred Scott is even allowed to stand before court.
Some consider Dred Scott not a citizen. The question has also been raised about the onstitutionality of the Missouri Compromise and whether it not infringes on an individual’s right to protect property which is written in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. What is considered a man or “men” in the Declaration of Independence is questioned and some justices ask if African Americans or those with slave roots are in the category of this people and if the equality guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and the Natural and Common Laws granted by the Constitution is applicable to African American men.
The consistent racist rulings by the states courts and eventually the federal court have led to the escalation of the Dred Scott case to the Supreme Court. Issue: Is Dred Scott a citizen of the United States? Holding: Undetermined Majority Reasoning: A. Rule: Amendment 5 of the constitution: sets out rules for indictment by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the right to due process, and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy. This cannot be used for the argument of Sanford because of the following reasons.
Scott’s legal argument are supported by precedents such as Somersett v. Stewart, Winny v. Whitesides, and Rachel v. Walker, claiming his presence and residence in free territories results in his emancipation. The Missouri Compromise states that slavery is prohibited north of the parallel 36 30′ and that residence in a Free State results in the automatic emancipation of a slave. The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, giving Dred Scott the right to sue in court. The
Constitution states that citizenship is granted to those born in the United States making Dred Scott a United States citizen, giving him the right to legally sue in court. The Constitution does not contain the word “slave” anywhere therefore property cannot be applicable to people who are “all created equal” and given natural rights according to the Declaration of Independence. Property rights cannot constitutionally be applicable to slaves who are people. The Missouri Compromise can stand because Congress power to prohibit slavery in the territories is constitutional.
Under the articles of confederation, the Continental Congress banned slavery from the Northwest Territory in 1787 while drafting the constitution. The authority of congress over slavery is then seen again in the reimplementation of the Northwest Ordinance in 1789. Congress also has the power to control slavery in the territories under article IV, section 3: “The Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States... ”
By the Declaration of Independence and Constitution Dred Scott is legally a citizen of the United States and has the right to trial granted by Amendment Seven of the Constitution: Provides for the right to trial by jury in certain civil cases, according to common law. It is undeniable not only morally but constitutionally that Dred Scott should be freed from the shackles of slavery horribly placed upon him since his day of birth. Simply limiting the scope of the constitution’s laws to this case, the case should be ruled in favor of Dred Scott.
To first address the ridiculous, ludicrous claim that Dred Scott may not even be entitled to the right to stand before court with a lawsuit it is in the very roots of the foundation of this country that guarantees ALL MEN to be treated equal and that those born in the United States are automatically granted citizenship or “natural born citizenship”. The constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise regarding slavery is incredibly justified by the Declaration of Independence and the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution itself!
The very Amendment that is trying to be used for the protection of Sanford! The Fifth Amendment is depriving Dred Scott of both life and liberty. In response to the constitutionality of Congress’ authority over states it is explicitly stated in the Constitution that Congress is given the authority over any property and territory belonging to the United States. The first sentence of section one under Article Four states that “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.
In this context and when applied to the case of Dred Scott, that because he was a Free Man by the laws of another state, the Free Territories or the Places where slavery was abolished which would be Louisiana Territory due to the passing of the Missouri Compromise, his title of a Free Man should be respected in other states even if they allow slavery. He should also be considered free simply because of the many precedents before him which established that once a slave resided on free land, their owner was punished by the automatic lawful emancipation of the slave that they brought into that territory.
Simply put it is unlawful to just trim and interpret and oddly apply the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to protect an unconstitutional and incredibly immoral practice. Dred Scott has the right to be free because he resided in free territory. Dred Scott is an American citizen because he was born in the United States, specifically Virginia. The Declaration of Independence also does not exclude men of African American descent and says “all men” which literally states all men. All men would include men who are African American. Lastly, by the Fifth and Seventh Amendment he is lawfully allowed to sue his owner Sanford.
The Fifth Amendment gives him the right to liberty and life and these things can only be taken away by DUE PROCESS in which he wants to go through. The Seventh Amendment guarantees a jury trial. For these reasons it is evident to say the least that in compliance to the laws established by our founding fathers, our constitution, and the declaration of Independence that Dred Scott should be granted his emancipation. To rule against Dred Scott would not only be an incredibly immoral and clearly unlawful choice, but would show an obvious alternative motive that would not be surprising for many judges and justices to hold.
The concern over the protection of the institution of slavery and the economy of the South should not cloud the morality of the decision regarding this case neither should it act as an alternative ambition for the ruling of this case. To rule against Dred Scott, it would take a very embarrassing amount of horribly inaccurate interpretation and manipulation of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. B. Application: Property Rights granted by Amendment 5 is not
applicable to slaves because in itself it is a contradiction. Slaves are not property and are also entitled to common law that is listed in Amendment 5 and cannot constitutionally be treated or regarded to as property. Concurrence 1: Amendment 5 is only applicable when not in violation of itself. Concurrence 2: Amendment 5 is only applicable when not in violation of the Declaration of Independence which explicitly states that “All men are created equal. ” Concurrence 3:: Amendment 5 can only be applied when not in violation of another Constitutional amendment.
Dissent 1: Dred Scott is not protected by the Fifth Amendment because he is property, not a citizen of the United States. The phrase “All men are created equal” in the declaration of independence cannot be applied to African Americans because they are not equal to white men by nature. Therefore, they and more specifically, Dred Scott is not protected by the Declaration of Independence. Because he is not a citizen, he is not granted the right to life and liberty. He also does not have the right to sue in court if this precedent is applied in this way.
Dissent 2: The Missouri Compromise is unconstitutional because it infringes on the Fifth Amendment which cannot take away the property of a man without due process in court. Because the Missouri Compromise simply abolished slavery and technically took the “property”- which is slaves, of slave owners without going through due process, it was unconstitutional. Congress also supposedly had no constitutional authority to implement these sort of laws and policies over states.