Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
it before the Circuit Court I took it up to the Supreme Court, where, if I got beat again, I thought it better to say no more about it, as I did not know of any lawful mode of reversing the decision of the highest tribunal on earth. To whom is Mr. Lincoln going to appeal? Why, he says he is going to appeal to Congress. Let us see how he will appeal to Congress. He tells us that on the 8th of March, 1820, Congress passed a law called the Missouri Compromise, prohibiting slavery forever in all the territory west of the Mississippi and north of the Missouri line of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, that Dred Scott, a slave in Missouri, was taken by his master to Fort Snelling, in the present State of Minnesota, situated on the west branch of the Mississippi river, and consequently in the Territory where slavery was prohibited by the Act of 1820, and that when Dred Scott appealed for his freedom in consequence of having been taken into a free Territory, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that Dred Scott did not become free by being taken into that Territory, but that having been carried back to Missouri, was yet a slave. Mr. Lincoln is going to appeal from that decision and reverse it. He does not intend to reverse it as to Dred Scott. Oh, no! But he will reverse it so that it shall not stand as a rule in the future. How will he do it? He says that if he is elected to the Senate, he will introduce and pass a law just like the Missouri Compromise, prohibiting slavery again in all the Territories. Suppose he does re-enact the same law which the Court has pronounced unconstitutional, will that make it constitutional? If the Act of 1820 was unconstitutional in consequence of Congress having no power to pass it, will Mr. Lincoln make it constitutional by passing it again? What clause of the Constitution of the United States provides for an appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court to Congress? If my reading of that instrument is correct, it is to the effect that that Constitution and all laws made in pursuance of it are of the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution or laws of a State to the contrary notwithstanding. Hence, you will find that only such acts of Congress are laws as are made in pursuance of the Constitution. When Congress has passed an Act, and put it on the statute book as law, who is to decide whether that Act is in conformity with the Constitution or not? The Constitution of