In 1857, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision in the case of a Melanoid man named Dred Scott. Scott was born into slavery and he unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters. Scott claimed that he and his wife should be granted their freedom because they had lived in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for four years, where slavery was illegal.
The 1857 Supreme Court decision in this case legally solidified white supremacy in the United States that dominates every area of activity today. Chief Supreme Court Justice of the Dred Scott case, Roger Taney made the following statement about Black Americans in his final decision:
“They (Black people) had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Many legal and social analysts will claim that the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution that was made a few years after this Supreme Court ruling, effectively overturned the Dred Scott decision. But the Supreme Court has never specifically overturned the Dred Scott decision. And even to this day, the 14th amendment in the Constitution is rarely enforced to protect Black Americans.
Part of the 14th amendment reads:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Yet, during the so-called Jim Crow era, the 14th amendment, and other amendments were legally and repeatedly violated when it came to Black Americans. Black people could be lynched by whites at any time for any reason with impunity. And even now in modern times, we repeatedly see numerous innocent, unarmed Black men, women, and children have their so-called Constitutional rights violated by white supremacists with complete impunity.
Trayvon Martin was “deprived of life” without “due process of the law.”
Eric Garner was “deprived of life” without “due process of the law.”
Freddie Gray was “deprived of life” without “due process of the law.”
Philander Castille was “deprived of life” without “due process of the law.”
And this list goes on and on. All of these Black citizens were murdered by whites and the killers were not punished. So these cases prove that the Constitution is not being fully enforced. But it proves that the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision is being fully enforced: Meaning Blacks do not have rights that whites are bound to respect.
A recent court ruling in Kansas approvingly cited the Dred Scott decision in an anti-abortion case. In October 2016, Kansas Solicitor General cited the Dred Scott decision in a legal brief explaining why SB 95, which is a ruling that outlawed certain types of abortion, should be upheld.
While pro-lifers sometimes use the example of the human rights abuses of slavery to argue that all human beings deserve an equal right to life and liberty, that does not appear to have been the Kansas Attorney General’s argument in this case. Rather, the state’s point in citing Dred Scott (a ruling that said Blacks were not U.S. citizens and that Blacks were inferior) is to indicate how the state Constitution language should be interpreted.
In its argument, the state attorneys cited former Chief Justice Roger Taney’s description of the Declaration of Independence in the Dred Scott case. Taney wrote that the Declaration’s unalienable rights are merely “general words used in that memorable instrument” that have no legal effect, according to the ABA Journal.
Many people in the legal profession were shocked that the Dred Scott decision would be approvingly cited in a modern case. Feeling the backlash, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt apologized for citing the controversial Dred Scott case. Also in response to the backlash, Kansas “withdrew” the offending legal brief on October 18th 2016.
But “withdrawing” a legal brief after you effectively cite it in court is too little too late. The cat is out of the bag. The reality is, the court approvingly allowed the Dred Scott case to be cited because the Scott decision is still the law on the land in the United States. Black people still do not have rights that whites are bound to respect. And Black people do not get equal protection under the law.
At this point, Black people should collectively go to the Supreme Court to establish exactly what our status and what our compensation should be under this court sanctioned system of white supremacy.