Open thread May 31, 2019 Dan Crawford | May 31, 2019 5:47 am Tags: open thread Comments (1) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
There was a commenter on AB quite a while back who was intelligent but wrong. He stated that Roger Taney had decided correctly against Dred Scott. I believe he was relying on the “fugitive slave” clauses in the constitution and subsequent laws.
But Dred Scott was not a fugitive slave. The issue was…. or should have been… when Dred Scott was taken into a state where slavery was not legal, did he become a free man. And therefore taking him back into a slave state amounted to kidnapping a free man into slavery. Taney ignored that issue and relied on considering a slave “property” who had no rights whatsoever under the law and the Constitution. Taney believed he was upholding the sacred rights of property.
This kind of reasoning is unfortunately common in Supreme Court decisions, and almost universal among prosecutors and government officials who choose to interpret the law and the Constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean at the time.
It was Abraham Lincoln who saw most clearly the danger of ignoring “state’s rights” when the state was a “free state,” while enforcing the “state’s rights” of slave states even when they conflicted with the laws of free states within the boundaries of those free states.
Here is a little dicta of my own: I am fairly sure I would have been opposed to Lincoln waging war against the seceded states. I would have believed there were other ways to free slaves. But I think I would have been wrong. Lincoln saw that nothing short of war would prevent the establishment of a “slave empire,” even if secession had eliminated the threat of slave states enforcing their peculiar institution on free states under the doctrine of “property rights.” The slave empire was a real threat and a real plan by some Southern leaders to conquer countries in Central American and the Carribean. This, and the “right” of secession, would have fatally weakened the “new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
What has this to do with anything you care about. Not much perhaps, except the danger of being too sure of yourself when you see the obvious truth. And of course the current danger that we have of establishing a kind of slave state (for whites as well as blacks) in America today. The vast right wing conspiracy is here. The only thing the planter aristocracy learned from the civil war is that white is as good as black and it’s cheaper to rent than to buy.
And yes, I am painfully aware that every would-be despot claims he is “protecting freedom.”