Dred Scott Reconsidered

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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and federal courts of appeals judges at the Dred Scott conference at HLS.

A century and a half after the Supreme Court ruled that blacks could never be citizens, a host of judges, professors, and students gathered at Harvard Law School to reconsider the case. Last weekend, Professor Charles Ogletree and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute hosted a conference entitled “150th Anniversary of Dred Scott v. Sandford: Race, Citizenship & Justice.”

A highlight was when an all-star panel of judges presided over a mock argument on whether the result of Dred Scott – and the vitriolic opinion of Chief Justice Robert B. Taney – was inevitable in its day, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and nine judges from the federal courts of appeals. Those who argued before the court included Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar, Pepperdine Law Dean Kenneth W. Starr, and Duke Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky. Full reports and webcasts from the conference are available on the institute website at www.charleshamiltonhouston.org.

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