Was Dred Scott Correctly Decided? An 'Expert Report' for the Defendant

34 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2009

See all articles by Paul Finkelman

Paul Finkelman

Gratz College; Albany Law School

Date Written: 2008


This Article offers an "expert report" for the defendant in Dred Scott, and argues that "given the history of the writing of the Constitution, the importance of slavery to the American economy, the specific protections for slavery found in the Constitution, and the politics of the era," the "decision upholding Dred Scott's status as a slave was surely inevitable." However, from "the perspective of modern scholarship . . . it is not unreasonable to ask if the case was in fact correctly decided. To ask this question is not to defend [Chief Justice] Taney's racism" or to argue "in favor of slavery." Instead, this Article suggests "how the Court might have reached the same result that Chief Jusitce Taney reached - and why perhaps the result was constitutionally correct - without relying on racism or aggressively proslavery thought."

Suggested Citation

Finkelman, Paul, Was Dred Scott Correctly Decided? An 'Expert Report' for the Defendant (2008). Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 4, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1327776

Paul Finkelman (Contact Author)

Gratz College ( email )

7605 Old York Road
Melrose Park, PA 19027
United States

Albany Law School

United States

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