Decision of the Supreme Court - March 11 1857

Source citation
“The Decision of the Supreme Court,” New York aily Times, 11 March 1857, p. 4.
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New York Times
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The Decision of the Supreme Court
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Leah Suhrstedt
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

The Decision of the Supreme Court.

We must decline publishing the numerous communications that reach us, in regard to the recent decision of the Supreme Court in regard to Slavery,- not because we are inclined in the least to depreciate its importance or to acquiesce in its argument:- but mainly because no practical good can follow the discussion. When the various opinions of the several judges are published, we shall endeavor to ascertain from them what points of law have been actually decided and what have not,- and we shall probably take occasion to speak hereafter, as we have done already, of the bearing of this action of the Court upon the future relations of Slavery to the Government and the country.

There are some discussions in which a journalist may profitably engage and some in which he cannot. Before the late election it was legitimate and laudable to resist the election of Mr. BUCHANAN:- since that event, we have not been able to perceive the utility of such a line of argument. It is the business of a newspaper to deal with pending issues and to aim at practical results. But when a point is once established- beyond all chance of being changed,- strength is wasted in continuing to assail it. The decision of the Supreme Court, in this instance as in all others, is the law of the land. What it has decided must stand,- all the arguments and remonstrances in the world to the contrary, notwithstanding. If we thought we could persuade the Judges to reverse their own decision, we would gladly prosecute the endeavor:- but we see no special ground for such a result.

Some of our correspondents appeal from the Court to the people,- denounce its character, repudiate its authority, and strive to arouse popular hostility against the supremacy assigned to it by the Constitution. We cannot second these endeavors, for we deem them unsound and unsafe. They point to one of two alternatives,- nullification, or a change in the Constitution. The first is treasonable, and the last is Quixotic. It is very natural that we should dislike the tribunal which decides against us,- but it is not rational on that account to seek the overthrow of its authority. The Supreme Court is an essential part of our federal organization. The government could not exist without it, any more than it could exist without the Senate, which is quite as hostile to Freedom, and quite as unjust to the Free States, but fortunately not quite so long-lived, as the Supreme Court itself. If any section, or any party, is to seek the annihilation of whatever branch of the Government happens to be against it, our political contests will become struggles for national life- attempts to tear away, one after another, the limbs of the body politic.

There is an appeal to the people against the action of this, as against that of every other branch of the government which is perfectly legitimate and proper;- but it must begin by acknowledging, not denying, its authority. The first thing which the opponents of Slavery extension have to do, is to seek the accomplishment of their object by the means and measures which are left available for that aid. The next is to aim at the reformation of the Court and the Senate, by the regular process through which popular sovereignty makes itself felt according to the Constitution. We are ready to labor, at the proper time, and by such means as may commend themselves to our judgment, in both endeavors. But we cannot join in the hot crusade against the Court which its recent decision is admirably calculated to provoke. It is a decision which strikes at the root of Republican freedom, and which has done far more than any other act of the Government, from its foundation to the present day, to weaken the hold of the Constitution and the Union upon the affections and confidence of the best portion of the American people.

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