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Taney, Roger B.  

Kevin R. Gutzman

Roger Brooke Taney is generally considered to be both one of the great American judges and one of the leading opponents of African Americans in history. Don E. Fehrenbacher, historian of the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, regards Taney's opinion in that case as the logical extension of the principles announced by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison (1803), a case establishing that the “essence of judicial duty” is to decide which laws conform to the Constitution. One Taney biographer opines that Taney, in his opinions, presented the most coherent elaboration of Jacksonian democracy. All of these characterizations are well deserved.

Born into a prominent Maryland Catholic family Taney early demonstrated outstanding academic ability by graduating from Dickinson College at age eighteen Having completed the four year course of study in three years Taney was his class s elected valedictorian Because his father ...