Sandra Davidson earned her PhD in philosophy from the University of Connecticut and her JD from the University of Missouri, graduating Order of the Coif. She is a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, teaching media law there since 1989. She also taught media law at the MU School of Law. She is the attorney for the Columbia Missourian, published by the Missouri School of Journalism.
The Dreadful Dred Scott Decision
Some errors in law ultimately require constitutional change. On the basis of illustrating human misery and need for a change in law, perhaps no other decision is as poignant as Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 US 393 (1857). This infamous decision, in which the Supreme Court went on record as being willing to deny African Americans the most basic right—that of US citizenship—was antithetical not only to principles of democracy but also to any notion of human decency.
Not so Minor: The Supreme Court Denies Women's Right to Vote
In Missouri, Virginia Minor was an early proponent of women’s right to vote. She had been the first president of the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri in 1867—two years before Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton established the National Woman Suffrage Association. Minor wanted to vote in the national election in 1872, but St. Louis registrar Reese Happersett would not let her register to vote. Minor sued, but in Minor v. Happersett, 88 US 162 (1875), the Supreme Court ruled that no law conferred on women the right to vote. The Court pointed out at the outset of its opinion that the constitution and laws of Missouri limited voting to men. Virginia Minor died in 1894, never getting the right to vote for which she labored for decades. This presentation will also discuss coverture, the status a woman acquires through marriage under common law.