Monday, October 16, 2023

Newspaper Commentary on Griffin's Case

Gerard N. Magliocca

Another issue in the Section Three debate is the relevance of Chief Justice Chase's circuit opinion in Griffin's Case. I've been going through the newspaper commentary from 1869 on that decision, which stated, in part, that an Act of Congress was required to enforce Section Three. Here is how the New York Sun described Chase's opinion:
"We consider that decision of Chief Justice Chase not only entirely erroneous in point of law, but the most immoral in its character and the most atrocious in its consequences ever pronounced by an American Judge. It is of far greater consequence and if possible is more odious, than the opinion of Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott case. If the decision of the Chief Justice is law, slavery may be re-established under the Constitution of the United States any day . . . The argument of inconvenience to which the Chief Justice resorts applies with much greater force against the abolishment of slavery than it does against the liberation of a few prisoners."


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