Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
The Supreme Court of Illinois does not hesitate to pronounce an Act of the Legislature void, as being repugnant to the Constitution, and the Supreme Court of the United States is vested by the Constitution with that very power. The Constitution says that the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in the Supreme Court, and such inferior courts as Congress shall, from time to time, ordain and establish. Hence it is the province and duty of the Supreme Court to pronounce judgment on the validity and constitutionality of an Act of Congress. In this case they have done so, and Mr. Lincoln will not submit to it, and he is going to reverse it by another Act of Congress of the same tenor. My opinion is that Mr. Lincoln ought to be on the Supreme Bench himself, when the Republicans get into power, if that kind of law knowledge qualifies a man for the bench. But Mr. Lincoln intimates that there is another mode by which he can reverse the Dred Scott decision. How is that? Why, he is going to appeal to the people to elect a President who will appoint judges who will reverse the Dred Scott decision. Well, let us see how that is going to be done. First, he has to carry on his sectional organization, a party confined to the Free States, making war upon the slaveholding States until he gets a Republican President elected. [He never will, sir.] I do not believe he ever will. But suppose he should; when that Republican President shall have taken his seat (Mr. Seward, for instance), will he then proceed to appoint judges? No! he will have to wait until the present judges die before he can do that, and perhaps his four years would be out before a majority of these judges found it agreeable to die; and it is very possible, too, that Mr. Lincolns senatorial term would expire before these judges would be accommodating enough to die. If it should so happen I do not see a very great prospect for Mr. Lincoln to reverse the Dred Scott decision. But suppose they should die, then how are the new judges to be appointed? Why, the Republican President is to call upon the candidates and catechise them, and ask them, How will you decide this case if I appoint you judge? Suppose, for instance, Mr. Lincoln to be a candidate for a vacancy on the Supreme Bench to fill Chief Justice Taneys place and when he applied to Seward, the latter would say, Mr. Lincoln, I cannot appoint you until I know how you will decide