Lincoln on the Supremacy of the Courts

Dad29 reminds us that Lincoln was not a fan of conceding moral questions to the Supreme Court. Indeed, it was opposition to one such decision that brought him into politics -- and the Republican party into being.
...Perhaps the most famous opponent of judicial supremacy in our nation’s history was Abraham Lincoln, who as President directly defied the abominable and inhuman monstrosity that was Chief Justice Taney’s ruling in 1857’s Dred Scott v. Sandford.

"...the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."
Far from the Supreme Court being the obvious answer to the problem of state slavery, for a time it was slavery's most prominent defender.


Ymar Sakar said...

Jackson had a similar view about the SC, supercharged up due to the Trail of Tears. But to Southerners, one was a hero they sought to emulate and another was a "Tyrant" that started the "War of Northern Aggression.

Just as to Southerners in 1945, FDR was a "Savior" rather than the destroyer of America. Funny, how propaganda is so effective, without a shot being fired. All you have to do is start a war and blame it on your enemies. It works.

Grim said...

It just goes to show you how concentrating power in the court corrupts justice. Lincoln and Jackson both wanted to override the court; all people cared about was the outcome of doing so. Today the same people who wanted to filibuster Alito and prevent Bush from appointing a justice for 19 months are up in arms about the idea of Congress refusing to seat a justice nominated by a President.

The court isn't supposed to be about high powered politics. These issues belong in the legislative branch, where if you hate the decision you can vote out the scoundrels -- you don't have to fight a war to overturn a decision by untouchable lifetime appointees.