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Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

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Classifying Arguments in the Case

The following is a list of arguments used in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Read through each argument and decide whether it supports Dred Scott's side in favor of his freedom (DS), Sanford's position in favor of Scott's continued slavery (SAN), both sides (BOTH), or neither side (N). Label each argument next to the number.

  1. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 outlawed slavery forever in certain areas. Dred Scott's owner took him to these free areas. Thus, Scott became free forever.
  2. Dred Scott is not a citizen because if he were he would be entitled to all of the privileges and immunities of a citizen, one of which is the right of free movement. It is clear that the laws governing slavery do not permit this, thus he cannot be a citizen.
  3. Even before the Constitution, some states allowed blacks to vote. The Constitution does not say explicitly that blacks cannot be citizens.
  4. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Neither Congress nor states can pass laws that conflict with the Constitution.
  5. It was law in many states and had been common law in Europe for centuries that a slave who legally traveled to a free area automatically became free.
  6. In the case of Strader v. Graham (1850), the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case of three slaves who had been taken from Kentucky to Indiana and Ohio and then back to Kentucky. The Court declared that the status of the slave depended on the laws of Kentucky, not Ohio.
  7. In 1865, the states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution making slavery illegal.
  8. The Constitution recognized the existence of slavery. Therefore, the men who framed and ratified the Constitution must have believed that slaves and their descendants were not to be citizens.
  9. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 that outlawed slavery in some future states was unconstitutional because Congress does not have the authority to deny property rights of law-abiding citizens. Thus, Scott was always a slave in areas that were free.
  10. At the time of the Dred Scott case, women and minors could sue in federal court even though they could not vote.

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