The U.S. constitution throughout the years.

Essay by speeddemon82101High School, 12th gradeA+, January 2003

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The U.S. Supreme Court has played a major role in either expanding or limiting constitutional civil liberties in the U.S.

The U.S. constitution was designed with executive, legislative and the judiciary branch to maintain checks and balance in the government. The Articles of Confederation, which was the first constitution of the U.S., designated Supreme Court as the head of the judiciary branch with the intent to establish justice in the U.S. The U.S. Supreme Court contributed to restrict the civil liberties of the African Americans by passing legislation in favor of slavery. In Dred Scott v. Sandford, the Supreme Court declared that African Americans were not U.S. citizen and thus depriving them of freedom and privileges enjoyed by a citizen. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of racial segregation which emphasized unfair treatment towards African American. The Supreme Court advocated slavery and continued the prejudice against African American through the decision in these cases.

Dred Scott was the slave of John Emerson who took him from Missouri to live in Illinois and then Wisconsin Territory and both of these territories prohibited slavery. Scott sued the surgeon's widow for his freedom three years after Emerson's death in 1843. He argued that his residence in a free state and a free territory made him free. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided in 1857 that Scott was still a slave and thus was not entitled to sue in court.

The rulings of the Supreme Court limited the right to citizenship for African American, which was entitled to them from the beginning of the nation. It intensified the controversy over slavery and emphasized African Americans to be treated as property as the ruling stated that fifth amendment which is the right to own property was...