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Wallace Stevens found in the blackbird an inexhaustible source of different perspectives. One could say the same of Dred Scott v. Sandford. A full 150 years after it was handed down, Dred Scott still fascinates and bedevils constitutional theorists and political scientists. It is truly a classic case whose meaning seems magically to make itself relevant as new situations and problems arise. No matter how much we think we understand the noble accents and inescapable rhythms of law and political science, we discover that Dred Scott, like the blackbird, is involved in what we know. In March of 2006, the two of us, along with Paul Finkelman, organized a conference at the University of Texas to commemorate the upcoming 150th anniversary of the 1857 decision. The more we talked about Dred Scott, the more we discovered that it could not easily be buried in the past. It was still with us in countless ways; indeed we found that Dred Scott was relevant to almost every important question of contemporary constitutional theory. And so, in this essay, we offer a baker's dozen reasons why Dred Scott continues to deserve a central place in the canon of American constitutional law.
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