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What If Any, Are the Similarities Between Dred Scott 1857 and the Zimmerman/Martin Verdict in 2013?
In light of the Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin Verdict, are there lessons to be learned today (in 2013) from the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott in 1857? Whether we are dealing with the city of Sanford, Florida, or John Sanford and family in 1850’s Missouri, history certainly has its uncanny similarities. “Six justices (in 1857) agreed that Scott was not a citizen, but disagreed over whether a freed slave could become a citizen.” Are young black men entitled to equal protection in America in 2013?
In March 1857, in one of the most controversial events preceding the American Civil War (1861-65), the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford. The case had been brought before the court by Dred Scott, a slave who had lived with his owner in a free state before returning to the slave state of Missouri. Scott argued that his time spent in these locations entitled him to emancipation. In his decision, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a staunch supporter of slavery, disagreed: The court found that no black, free or slave, could claim U.S. citizenship, and therefore blacks were unable to petition the court for their freedom. The Dred Scott decision incensed abolitionists and heightened North-South tensions, which would erupt in war just three years later.
The Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, holding that blacks could not be U.S. citizens, exacerbated sectional tensions between North and South