Heroes and Villains

Roger Taney and Injustice: The Dred Scott Decision

Students will explore the vice of injustice in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney and the Dred Scott (1857) decision that instituted great injustice against African Americans by arguing that they cannot be citizens.  This lesson contains a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources related to the majority decision and dissents in the Supreme Court case, and activities that guide students through analyzing the effect of injustice on constitutional principles and civil society.

Founding Principles

Equal Protection image

Equal Protection

The principle of equal justice under law means that every individual is equal to every other person in regards to natural rights and treatment before the law. There are no individuals or groups who are born with the right to rule over others.

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Equality

Every individual is equal to every other person in regards to natural rights and treatment before the law.

Inalienable / Natural Rights image

Inalienable / Natural Rights

Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.

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Liberty

Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.

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