Lesson Plan 11:

Group 3 - The Natural Law Argument


  1. Did Scott have the right to sue?
  2. Was Scott free as a result of living in a state and territory where slavery was illegal?
  3. Was it constitutional for the Congress to limit slavery in the territories?

Answer the 3 judicial questions based on "natural law" which is a "theory that some laws are basic and fundamental to human nature and are discoverable by human reason without reference to specific legislative enactments or judicial decisions." (From: "Natural Law." The Columbia Encyclopedia. Online. Internet. 24 Mar. 2005. Available: http://www.bartleby.com/65/na/natrllaw.html)

Many anti-slavery activists argued that slavery was against natural law. The Supreme Court used natural law principles ("the general principles of right and wrong") to condemn the international slave trade in the 1822 case of United States v. La Jeune Eugenie. (Wiecek, 37)