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Potter’s observation Essay

Potter’s observation that people’s attitudes toward upholding laws is commensurate with amount of approval they have for those laws has a lot of merit (Potter 1976). Indeed, evidence to back Potter’s theory can be seen in Dread Scott v. Sanford. Seven of the nine justices on the court had been appointed by southerners, while only two members, Peter Daniel and Benjamin Curtis, were appointed by a northern president. Every justice but Curtis had been appointed by a Democratic president. All of the southerners were in favor of slavery.

Meanwhile, so were two of the northerners. The only two members of the court, who were not pro-slavery, were Curtis and John McLean (Blanchard 2005). For instance, Justice Catron argues passionately against repealing the article of the treaty of 1803, which gave Louisiana to the United States. “Because it is protected by the constitution,” he says, “it cannot be repealed. ” Yet, he does not argue that, because the bill of rights grants men the right to liberty, no one can oppose Scott’s liberty.

He supports the parts of the constitution he agrees with, but fails to fight for the parts he does not support(United States Supreme Court 2009). Meanwhile, Justice Curtis, a northerner against slavery, argued for the constitutionality of states’ bans on slavery and on the Missouri Compromise. Unlike Catron, he was morally opposed to slavery and thus opposed upholding the Dred Scott decision(United States Supreme Court 2009). Justice McLean’s dissent provides more proof of Potter’s theory. Indeed, he argues that the court is wrong to rule against Scott, as Sanford has merely argued that Scott’s parents were slaves.

The plaintiff, he says, offered no proof to show that Scott himself was not a free man or a citizen of Missouri. Furthermore, the court never cited any precedents in ruling against Scott, he said. McLean, then, was another Northerner against slavery, and he voted in favor of Scott, rather than Sanford. This would seem to give credence to Potter’s observation (United States Supreme Court 2009). Bibliography Blanchard, Kenneth. The Case. February 7, 2005. http://web. archive. org/web/20041116095630/etech. northern. edu/blanchak/pols330/the_case.

htm (accessed January 24, 2009). Potter, David M. The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861. New York: Harper Collins, 1976. United States Supreme Court. Dread Scott v. Sanford: Mr. Justice Catron concurring. 2009. http://www. tourolaw. edu/patch/scott/Catron. asp (accessed January 24, 2009). —. Dread Scott v. Sanford: Mr. Justice Curtis dissenting. 2009. http://www. tourolaw. edu/patch/scott/Curtis. asp (accessed January 24, 2009). —. Dread Scott v. Sanford: Mr. Justice McClean dissenting. 2009. http://www. tourolaw. edu/patch/scott/McClean. asp (accessed January 24, 2009). .


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