A new view of Justice Taney
We probably all know of Dred Scott and its author, CJ Roger Taney. I just encountered an unusual insight into the fellow. American State Trials, vol I at 69 ff has an account of a case he tried and won in 1819.
His defendant was a Methodist Episcopal minister charged with violating the Slave Code (which forbade whites to oppose slavery publicly), It was claimed defendant had given a sermon denouncing slavery (and saying that it was a wonder the slaves didn't rise up and cut their masters' throats, and that slaves were treated as if they had no souls, when in fact they were more likely to end up in heaven than were their tyrannous masters) to a church full of ... slaves.
Taney by the account gave one rousing jury argument. He starts by saying that everybody knows that church opposes slavery and its ministers give sermons to that effect. The slaves came voluntarly, and their masters presumably did not forbid them.
He goes on to say that a person is clearly protected in preaching their religious creed, unless the statements are immoral and calculated to disturb the peace and order of society, while "subjects of national policy may, at all times, be freely and fully discussed in the pulpit, or elsewhere, without limitation or restraint." If the sermon offended or alarmed some of the listeners, "Their feelings, or their fears, would not alter the character of this doctrine or take from him a right secured to him by the constitution and laws of the state."
He argues it is necessary to prove evil intent; and on this even his own words are not conclusive evidence. If you take his words, many of the Framers said the same of slavery, or even worse. Are they guilty of incite slave revolt? "A hard necessity" may compel us to endure "the evil of slavery for a time. It was imposed upon us by another nation, while we were yet in a state of colonial vassalage. It cannot be easily or suddenly removed. Yet while it continues, it is a blot on our national character, and every real lover of freedom, confidently hopes it will be effectually, though it must be gradually, wiped away, and earnestly looks forward for the means by which this necessary object may be best obtained. And until it shall be accomplished, until the time shall come when we can point without a blush to the language held in the declaration of independence, every friend of humanity will seek to lighten the galling chain of slavery, and to better, to the utmost of his power, the wretched condition of the slave."
This is the later Chief Justice Taney!!!!