The Dred Scott Case.
We find the following editorial paragraph in the Washington Union:
“It is currently reported, and we hope on good authority, that the Judges of the Supreme Court have come to a decision in the case of DRED SCOTT, which involves the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The rumor is that seven of the Judges—viz.: Chief Justice TANEY, Justices CATRON, DANIEL, WAYNE, CAMPBELL, NELSON and GRIER, decide the law of 1820 to be unconstitutional. Justices CURTIS and MCLEAN dissent. There are other questions in the case about which nothing is said in the rumor referred to. The country will look with anxiety for this decision, and its influence upon sectionalism cannot be otherwise than highly beneficial.”
We do not attach much importance to this rumor. It is not at all unlikely that the decision mentioned may be given, but it is certainly unusual for the intentions of individual Judges in regard to the decisions they will be called on to pronounce, to leak out in advance.
If the Supreme Court should decide against the constitutionality of the Missouri prohibition, it will be under the necessity, according to our understanding of the case, of deciding, also, upon the power of a State to prohibit Slavery within its borders. SCOTT claims his freedom partly on the ground that he was taken by his owner to reside for two years in Illinois, and partly on the ground that he afterwards resided, also with the consent of his master, in the Territory from which Slavery was excluded by the Missouri Compromise. If they latter plea fails, the former must be decided. And a decision upon that point will be of special interest to all the Free States, inasmuch as it involves their sovereignty over their own domestic affairs. If SCOTT’S claim to freedom, on this ground, is denied, we do not see how any State has the right to prohibit Slavery within its own territory. Slavery will thus become, not only a national institution, but the only one with which sovereign States may not interfere.
It is not impossible, however, that, under such a decision, the question whether the National Government may, or may not, interfere with Slavery, will assume a very different position from that which it has held hitherto. If Slavery is to be decreed a national institution, why will it not be thus brought within the sphere of the national jurisdiction?