WASHINGTON — The Senate's only black interrupted the questioning of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thursday to say that she found it "personally offensive" when a Republican colleague compared the Roe vs. Wade ruling on abortion to the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857 that sanctioned slavery.
"I find it very difficult to sit here as the only descendant of a slave (and listen to a senator) analogize Dred Scott and Roe vs. Wade," said Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.).
She spoke after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) denounced "judicial activism" by the Supreme Court, past and present. Hatch apologized but said that Moseley-Braun has missed his point.
The Dred Scott decision was "the all-time worst case in the history of this country," Hatch said.
Faced with the question of whether a white slave owner could regain possession of a black man named Dred Scott who had lived freely in a Northern state, the Supreme Court in 1857 announced a broad property right for slave owners, one that could be not be infringed upon by laws that abolished slavery in some states. The ruling declared unconstitutional the "Missouri Compromise" because it created "free states" where slavery was illegal.