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TheDailyBeast.com: Most Divisive Supreme Court Decisions

Scott v. Sanford

Dred Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom in 1846. He had spent years living with his owner in the free Wisconsin territory, and he initiated his suit years after his return to Missouri and his owner had passed away. Eventually the case wound up before the Supreme Court, and the justices voted 7–2 against him. In 1857 Chief Justice Roger B. Taney read the majority opinion, which stated that blacks were not, and never could be, U.S. citizens. Thus, Scott could not sue in a U.S. court and could therefore not expect protection from the federal government or the courts. The ruling also stated that Congress lacked the authority to ban slavery from a federal territory. Many consider it to be the worst Supreme Court decision in history.

(AP Photo/The Southeast Missourian)
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