Civil and Human Rights

The State of Kansas Is Now Citing Pro-Slavery Court Decisions

By Charles Pierce

The question of what’s the matter with Kansas has become even deeper and darker since Governor Sam Brownback completed his project of turning the entire state into a lab rat for bad economic theories, and since the state elected Kris Kobach, the big daddy of voter-suppression—and of demanding that brown people carry their papers at all times—to be its secretary of state. But now the state’s Solicitor General, Steven McAllister, is getting into the act in a spectacular way.

Thanks to legal scholar Elizabeth Wydra, who spotted the case and spread the word on the electric Twitter machine, we learn that McAllister—or someone who may or may not still be working for him—went a bit antebellum on a citation in the case of Hodes and Nauer v. Schmidt et. al., a case challenging that state’s draconian anti-choice law. The state has an appeal before the Kansas Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Accountability Center, for which Wydra works, filed an amicus brief for the plaintiffs as part of the appeals process. McAllister—and, through him, the state of Kansas—filed a response to this brief.

We now present a portion of the latter brief.

Courts across the country have recognized that “[t]he Declaration of Independence is a statement of ideals, not law.” Schifanelli v. U.S. Gov’t, 1988 WL 138496, at *1 (4th Cir. Dec. 22, 1988). See also Swepi, LP v. Mora Cty., N.M., 81 F. Supp. 3d 1075, 1172 (D.N.M. 2015) (same); Minyard v. Walsh, 2014 WL 1029835, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 2014) (“Claim 4’s assertion of a violation of Plaintiff’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not cognizable. Those principles, described in the Declaration of Independence, do not guarantee enforceable rights.”); Black v. Simpson, 2008 WL 544458, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 27, 2008) (“There is no private right of action to enforce the Declaration of Independence.”); Borzych v. Frank, 2006 WL 3254497, at *8 (W.D. Wis. Nov. 9, 2006) (“the Declaration of Independence is not binding law”); Coffey v. United States, 939 F. Supp. 185, 191 (E.D.N.Y.1996) (“While the Declaration of Independence states that all men are endowed certain unalienable rights including ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,’ it does not grant rights that may be pursued through the judicial system.”). See also Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 407 (1856)…

Wait. What was that again?

See also Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 407 (1856)…

Holy cow. The state of Kansas has a lawyer citing Dred Scott in support of its position. In defense of a law aimed at limiting a woman’s right to choose. What in the fck is the matter with Kansas?

Dred Freaking Scott!

I am not a lawyer, nor am I a legal scholar, although I do function as one here in the shebeen. But there’s a nice shiny nickel for anyone who can tell me the last time anyone cited that monstrous ruling in support of anything. Jesus, these people.

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