Bad law in our nation ruled by laws: Dred Scott (African-American citizenship)

I’ve been writing about a remarkably courageous man who, in 1940, defied a bad law and paid for his defiance for the rest of his life.

It’s easy to define a bad law in retrospect, although in the past decade or so we Americans have been assaulted by a bunch of laws, i.e., decisions, coming out of the Supreme Court which we are quick to call bad.

And since Gorsuch was elbowed onto the Supreme Court, I’ve been considering a future of more bad laws and lousy SCOTUS decisions.

What should we do about these bad laws and rotten decisions? The term “citizen nullification” has been sitting in my brain, although I don’t know how to define it, or how to invigorate a movement toward it.

In a country firmly dedicated to the rule of law, so dedicated that a bad law can take a century to be revoked or ignored in practice, what should we citizens do outside of court action to defy, ignore, disobey a rotten law? Especially when the Supreme Court has affirmed a law, thus mooting any further court action.

That’s the jolly course my mind has been taking lately. I wake up in the middle of the night worried about so many upcoming stinking decisions and can only get back to sleep when I say “Floaty McFloatface, Floaty McFloatface.”

So, thanks to Google, I searched for bad US laws or something like that and came upon the article, “13 Worst Supreme Court Decisions of All Time,” on, by a lawyer, Casey C. Sullivan.

Wow are they lousy decisions! I’ve heard of a lot of them but not of all.

So that you don’t have to absorb and be sickened by too many at a time, I’m going to give you Sullivan’s choices one by one.

Maybe if everyone can get past the holy reverence for the United States as a nation governed by laws, not men–and Trump’s one-man deliberate dismantling of good laws and regulations protecting us may help us get over that hump–we can challenge bad laws as soon as we ferret them out.

Sullivan listed his choices in order and I respect his [or her?] order, so will use it. I am adding one additional bad decision, which he unaccountably left out. \

Here are Sullivan’s opening explanatory paragraphs:

Every once in awhile, the Supreme Court will decide a case that has widespread social and political impact, striking down discriminatory laws, upholding cherished institutions, protecting individual liberties. But not all Supreme Court opinions are great. Most are boring, technical, and of little import to the general public.

And some are downright terrible. For every Brown v. Board of Ed., there’s a Buck v. Bell. Indeed, there are enough horrendous Supreme Court opinions to fill a book, or at least a blog post, and many of the Court’s worst decisions still stand as good law. Here is our overview of the 13 most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Supreme Court decisions.

1. Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857): Hands down the worst Supreme Court decision ever, Dred Scott held that African Americans, whether free men or slaves, could not be considered American citizens. The ruling undid the Missouri Compromise, barred laws that would free slaves, and all but guaranteed that there would be no political solution to slavery. The opinion even included a ridiculous “parade of horribles” that would appear if Scott were recognized as a citizen, unspeakable scenarios like African Americans being able to vacation, hold public meetings, and exercise their free speech rights.

Here’s more about Dred Scott which led directly to the Civil War. You know, the war Trump just labeled as unnecessary.


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