Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
Mr. Lincoln makes another issue with me, and he wishes to confine the contest to these two issues. I accept the other as readily as the one to which I have already referred. The other issue is a crusade against the Supreme Court of the United States, because of its decision in the Dred Scott case. My fellow-citizens, I have no issue to make with the Supreme Court. I have no crusade to preach against that august body. I have no warfare to make upon it. I receive the decision of the Judges of that Court, when pronounced, as the final adjudication upon all questions within their jurisdiction. It would be perfectly legitimate and proper for Mr. Lincoln, myself, or any other lawyer, to go before the Supreme Court and argue any question that might arise there, taking either side of it, and enforcing it with all our ability, zeal, and energy, but when the decision is pronounced that decision becomes the law of the land, and he, and you, and myself, and every other good citizen, must bow to it, and yield obedience to it. Unless we respect and bow in deference to the final decisions of the highest judicial tribunal in our country, we are driven at once to anarchy, to violence, to mob law, and there is no security left for our property, or our own civil rights. What protects your property but the law, and who expounds the law but the judicial tribunal; and if an appeal is to be taken from the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, in all cases where a person does not like the adjudication, to whom is that appeal to be taken? Are we to appeal from the Supreme Court to a county meeting like this? And shall we here re-argue the question and reverse the decision? If so, how are we to enforce our decrees after we have pronounced them? Does Mr. Lincoln intend to appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court to a Republican caucus, or a town meeting? To whom is he going to appeal? [To Lovejoy, and shouts of laughter.] Why, if I understand aright, Lincoln and Lovejoy are co-appellants in a joint suit, and inasmuch as they are so, he would not certainly appeal from the Supreme Court to his own partner to decide the case for him.
Mr. Lincoln tells you that he is opposed to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case. Well, suppose he is; what is he going to do about it? I never got beat in a law suit in my life that I was not opposed to the decision, and if I had