By Rebecca Gibian / October 20, 2018

Which President is Behind The Supreme Court’s Worst Decision?

James Buchanan had a hand in the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision.

james buchanan
(Original Caption) Cabinet of President J. Buchanan (center). (Getty Images)

Though James Buchanan’s inaugural address on march 4, 1857 is widely considered one of the most forgettable ever given by an American leader, it did not take long for the unimpressive inauguration to become one of the most significant in U.S. history.

It was the first inaugural address to be photographed, and the first inaugural given after the creation of the Republican Party. It was also the last before secession and ultimately the last one that a Democrat would give for nearly 30 years.

The oath of office was administrated by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who two days later would hand down the Supreme Court’s landmark Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which said that Congress had no power to deprive slaveholders in U.S. territories of their property. Taney said that Blacks were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the White man was bound to respect.”

Ozy writes that Buchanan had for weeks been busy behind the scenes orchestrating, through lobbying, the result in Dred Scott, which many scholars now consider the worst decision in Supreme Court history. Buchanan’s actions represent what could happen if a president meddles in the judicial branch.

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