Legal Theories Of Natural Law And The Fugitive Slave Law

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In 1850, congress made the Fugitive Slave Law. The law mandated that all slaves that escaped from the South had to be returned to their rightful owner. After the Dred Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court case the blacks were not considered citizens of the United States. In the court case of United States v. Morris, a slave named Shadrach was being held for a hearing, because he escaped from Norfolk, Virginia to Boston. The Fugitive Slave Law mandated that Shadrach needed to be sent back to Norfolk to his rightful owner. A large crowd came into the courtroom and helped Shadrach escape to Canada. Eight of the people who helped Shadrach escape were charged with violating the Fugitive Slave Act. The jurors acquitted the emancipators even though they were clearly guilty. Using the legal theories of Natural Law, Legal Realism, and Positivism I will explore the ruling of the Morris jury. Natural law is a natural sense of what is right and wrong. Natural Law Theory states that laws are rational standards. Thomas Aquinas talked a lot about Natural Law Theory…show more content…
Goals are community based, and rights are the individual’s goals. Rights are people 's entitlements and they are moral ideas. The Fugitive Slave Law was a law based on goal, not rights. Dworkin says that rights trump all goals. Since Shadrach should have the right to be free, the jurors did the right thing not convicting the emancipators. Dworkin talks about principles or goals when deciding a case. He says that the jury must use principles to decided cases. The jury in the Morris case used principles to make their decision of not guilty. Dworkin talks about how not in every case outweighs goals. He says “no one shall be permitted to profit by his own fraud.” In the Morris case the emancipators did not benefit from the crime they committed. They help a man get free from slavery. In this case Dworkin would say that principle must be used in the jury’s

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