Dred Scott v Sanford
For years, enslaved Dred Scott and his family fought for their freedom. After being sold and transferred to different owners, Scott and his wife, Harriet, thought they had a case when they were moved from slave to free territory–twice. Federal laws made it illegal to re-enslave a Black person once they lived in free terrritory and allowed people to sue for wrongful enslavement. The Scotts sued their current owner, Irene Sanford, in a legal dispute that dragged on for an entire decade. That is, until the Supreme Court's ruling in 1857: Black people were not citizens so they had no right to file lawsuits in court. Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the majority dissenting opinion that included finding the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional and determining that the Fifth Amendment protected slave owners' rights because Black people were property.