Friday, March 10, 2017

Fede on Justice Duvall's Slavery Cases

Andrew T. Fede’s Not the Most Insignificant Justice: Reconsidering Justice Gabriel Duvall’s Slavery Law Opinions Favoring Liberty, is now out in the Journal of Supreme Court History and is available online.  He tells us:
In the article I suggest that Justice Gabriel Duvall, who shares a common ancestor with Barak Obama and Richard Cheney, has been unfairly labeled as our most insignificant U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  Before Duvall’s judicial career, he, like other Maryland lawyers, including Francis Scott Key, filed suits for enslaved people seeking their liberty.  While on the Supreme Court, Duvall wrote two slavery law opinions that endorsed approaches to the hearsay rule and the implied manumission doctrine, which were contrary to the pro-slavery, anti-manumission trend that swept through the Southern courts in the years before the Civil War and reached the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case.  The article also contrasts Duvall’s opinions with the views of Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger Taney.