As specified in Article II, section 2 of the Constitution, the President has the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court. With this 1835 document, from the Records of the U.S. Senate, President Andrew Jackson nominated Roger B. Taney.
In 1857, as the author of the Supreme Court's majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford, Roger Taney ruled that the Constitution did not recognize the citizenship of blacks who had been born a slaves and that Congress could not forbid slavery in the territories of the United States. Republicans furiously expressed opposition to this second holding. When Lincoln became President, he considered Taney an arch foe. During the Civil War, Taney ruled in vain against Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus (see Ex parte Merryman, 1861). The Dred Scott decision sparked bitter opposition from Northern politicians and a heated defense from the South and was one of the most important events leading up to the Civil War. This single opinion cast a shadow over Taney's distinguished legal career and his personal reputation for integrity. There was much antipathy to Taney at his death, but there has been a gradual increase in appreciation of his contributions to constitutional law.
[Use this activity as an end-of-term assessment for students in a pre–Civil War U.S. history course.] Provide students with a copy of Jackson’s message and a list of all 100 Our Documents. Ask students to create an annotated list of all items in Our Documents that are somehow related to the message. For example, the obvious match would be to Dred Scott v. Sandford, because Taney wrote the court’s majority opinion in the case. Encourage students to "leave no stone unturned" in looking for relationships to people and events that might stem from Jackson’s message. Invite student volunteers to share and explain all the connections that they found.