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RobertP

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Whoa! I am not arguing for or against anything. I simply posted what actually happened and the well-known fact that a constitutional amendment does in fact trump an Attorney General's opinion You need to lighten up.
No offense intended at all, I’m pretty light most of the time. My point is that Congress can void a SCOTUS decision through legislation, which is a much easier route than amending the Constitution. The AG’s opinion means nothing, Lincoln could’ve rammed through a bill in a NY minute had he wanted it, or simply as in the Emancipation Proclamation, issued an executive order. For whatever reasons he didn’t.
 
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RobertP

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What? No they couldn't. Separate branch of the government even then.

And there wasn't any reason to "void" Scott v Sanford anyway. It hadn't mandated that a state had no right to ban slavery, it merely included an opinion that invited that challenge. It was not in the interest of Lincoln or the Republican Congress to stir the pot at that point. All the free states remained free, no action necessary.

The reason folks were so excited over SvS is because of the precedent that it did set; that black slaves or their representatives could not bring suit over the issue, thus widening the door for a successful legal challenge that could lead to re-establishing slavery in all the states where it had been banned.
So the non-citizenship caveat was OK? I suppose that’s true, Lincoln was still working on re-colonization plans in early 1865 IIRC.
 

RobertP

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I'm not really sure what the controversy is. It was never in the Republican platform to address the issue of black citizenship. To the extent that the Lincoln administration addressed the issue, they went above and beyond their stated political objectives.
In 1862, US Attorney-General Edward Bates issued an Opinion on citizenship:

OPINION. ATTORNEY GENERAL' S OFFICE, November 29, 1862.
(To) HON. S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury.
SIR: Some time ago I had the honor to receive your letter submitting, for my opinion, the question whether or not colored men can be citizens of the United States. The urgency of other unavoidable engagements, and the great importance of the question itself, have caused me to delay the answer until now.

Your letter states that "the schooner Elizabeth and Margaret, of New Brunswick, is detained by the revenue cutter Tiger, at South Amboy, New Jersey, because commanded by a 'colored man,' and so by a person not a citizen of the United States. As colored masters are numerous in our coasting trade, I submit, for your opinion, the question suggested by Captain Martin, of the Tiger: Are colored men citizens of the United States, and therefore competent to command American vessels?"

The question would have been more clearly stated if, instead of saying are colored men citizens, it had been said, can colored men be citizens of the United States; for within our borders and upon our ships, both of war and commerce, there may be colored men, and white men, also, who'are not citizens of the United States.

In treating the subject, I shall endeavor to answer your question as if it imported only this: Is a man legally incapacitated to be a citizen of the United States by the sole fact that he is a colored, and not a white man? Who is a citizen? What constitutes a citizen of the United States? I have often been pained by the fruitless search in our law books and, the records of our courts, for a clear and satisfactory definition of' the phrase citizen of the United States. I find no such definition, no, authoritative establishment of the meaning of the phrase, neither by' a course of judicial decisions in our courts, nor by the continued and consentaneous action of the different branches of our political government...

...Finally, the celebrated case of Scott vs. Sanford, 19 Howard's Reports, 393, is sometimes cited as a direct authority against the capacity of free persons of color to be citizens of the United States. That is an entire mistake. The case, as it stands of record, does not determine, nor purport to determine, that question...

...upon the whole matter, I give it as my opinion that the man of color, mentioned in your letter, if born in the United States, is a citizen of the United States, and, if otherwise qualified, is competent according to the acts of Congress, to be master of a vessel...

...your obedient servant, EDWARD BATES, Attorney General.​

In that opinion, Bates essentially says that people of color are citizens of the United States, if they were born in the US. Within the text of the opinion, Bates notes in some detail that in the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court did not technically have the jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue of citizenship for free blacks, and therefore, the Court's ruling on that issue was not controlling.

- continues -

- Alan
All that means nothing. Where was Lincoln?
 
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RobertP

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- concluded -

The Republican Party would add to its portfolio of legislation to afford civil rights to African Americans:

• Republicans who championed the 13th Amendment (abolish slavery), the 14th Amendment (give African Americans citizenship rights), and the 15th Amendment (black male suffrage rights).

• The Civil Rights Act of 1866: This act granted black citizens equal rights to contract, to sue and be sued, to marry, travel, and own property. It made all citizens subject to "like punishment, pains and penalties." Any person guilty of depriving citizens of their stated rights because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude could be fined, imprisoned or both.

• The Reconstruction Act of 1867: This act allowed former slaves to participate fully in the political arena. As a result, African Americans sat in constitutional conventions, helped draft state constitutions, and supported new comprehensive programs for state education in the South.

• The Enforcement Act of 1870: This act stated that all citizens otherwise qualified to vote in any election should not be denied the vote because of race. States could set up prerequisites for voting, but all persons were to have equal access to the vote.

• The Civil Rights Act of 1871: This act set up a system of federal supervision of elections within the states in order to stop illegal voter registration practices.

• The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871: This act was intended to protect black citizens against intimidation by illegal action, such as by the KKK, in cases where states could not, or would not, provide protection.

• The Civil Rights Act of 1875: This act entitled all persons the "full and equal enjoyment" of public accommodations, such as hotels, transportation or theaters. It granted blacks the right to sue for personal damages, and allowed any qualified person to serve as a juror. This was the last piece of civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress until 1957.​

Again, the Republicans never said that they were going to address the issue of Black Citizenship (or emancipation, for that matter) in the 1860 election. I don't know that anybody is claiming that the Republicans were this serious exponent of Civil Rights for non-whites when the war began; they weren't. They evolved into it. African Americans like Douglass were very happy for this evolution. The Republicans of the era are responsible in large part for the citizenship rights that African Americans have today.

- Alan
All you have is an AG’s opinion during the war years.
 

ForeverFree

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All that means nothing. Where was Lincoln?
All you have is an AG’s opinion during the war years.
I have no idea what your issue is.

Dred Scott said that negroes were not citizens. The Lincoln administration issued an opinion that said negroes were citizens. I think most people would say that the president is accountable for the actions of his cabinet. I'm sure that if a member of his cabinet did something you find objectionable, you'd say it was Lincoln's fault... isn't it fair to give Lincoln credit when his cabinet does something positive?

African Americans at the time hailed the opinion. They thought it was breakthrough. I don't think they were being stupid or foolish when they did do so. Again, to repeat the words of Fred Douglass:

Citizenship is no longer denied us under this government. Under the interpretation of our rights by Attorney General Bates, we are American citizens. We can import goods, own and sail ships, and travel in foreign countries with American passports in our pockets...​

This was not a ruling that was merely theoretical. It had a practical impact, which affected the ability of African Americans import goods or own and sail ships. It was important to black folks.

The thing is, the Lincoln administration did not have to issue that opinion, which meant so much to African Americans. Republicans had never said they would do such a thing. They went above and beyond their stated platform to do something that African Americans of the time deemed as consequential.

Your approach to this strikes me as a case of no good deed going unpunished. What exactly is the downside of the Lincoln administration issuing this opinion, which African Americans said was important?

- Alan
 
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