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Abstract

The Dred Scott decision is remembered as arguably the most damaging opinion rendered by the Supreme Court throughout its more than 200 year tenure. This paper examines the political career, appointment, and judicial ideology of the author that infamous majority opinion, Chief Justice Roger Taney. Taney’s ruling not only substantially influenced the slavery debate, but also it expanded the use of judicial review. This paper also examines how Taney’s previous political career could have foreshadowed him tendency to act rashly while serving on the Supreme Court. Additionally, this paper investigates Taney’s ideological past, and tendency to make unilateral decisions regarding major issues of the time. While Taney was acting with the intentions of ending that national debate over the slavery issues, his opinion would subsequently place the nation on a path to war.

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