In the notorious case of Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that African-Americans were not and could not be citizens of the United States, and that the 1820 Missouri Compromise – which had created an (admittedly uneasy) equilibrium between slave and free states – was unconstitutional. Many consider the ruling the spark that ignited the American Civil War. The US Supreme Court seems not to have learned from its mistakes.
The court’s power to upend politics was not always obvious. In 1832, when US Chief Justic...
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