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African Americans: Equality & Law- Weapon or Tool?

Scott v. Sandford

I will give you a more in-depth historical background in class. For now consider the following facts:

Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against a man named John Sandford after he physically assaulted Scott, his wife and daughter. A free person could easily file such a lawsuit in court, but because Scott and his family were technically slaves (more on that in class), they were not allowed to do so.

At the time, the country was in the middle of a debate over slavery. The practice was legal in some states and completely illegal in other states. Dred Scott's owner moved him from a state where slavery was legal to a "free territory-" an area where it was not legal, and then brought Scott back to a slave state.

Scott argued that when he was moved to the free territory, he was no longer a slave, and that as a free person he had the right to file the lawsuit against Sanford.

At the trial court level, the judge ruled in fovor of Scott and concluded that he had the right to sue. Sanford appealed, and the appellate corut agreed with Sanford. After many years of appeals, Dred Scott v. Sandford was heard by the United States Supreme Court, which is the decision we are reviewing.

As you read the case remember that the issue the Court is dealing with here is whether Scott was entitled to file the lawsuit against Sandford. In other words, was Scott entitled to same rights that a citizen of the United States would be entitled?