Benjamin R. Curtis

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Benjamin Robbins Curtis
Benjamin Curtis.jpg
Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
From: September 22, 1851 – September 30, 1857
Nominator Millard Fillmore
Predecessor Levi Woodbury
Successor Nathan Clifford
Party Whig, Republican
Religion Unitarian, then Episcopalian

Benjamin Robbins Curtis (November 4, 1809 – September 15, 1874) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He is known for his dissent in Dred Scott v. Sanford - where the majority on the Court rule, amongst other things, that African Americans could not be citizens under the Constitution. Curtis disagreed, writing, "every free person born on the soil of a State, who is a citizen of that State by force of its Constitution or laws, is also a citizen of the United States."[1]


  • "When a strict interpretation of the Constitution, according to the fixed rules which govern the interpretation of laws, is abandoned, and the theoretical opinions of individuals are allowed to control its meaning, we have no longer a Constitution; we are under the government of individual men, who for the time being have power to declare what the Constitution is, according to their own views of what it ought to mean." - Dissent, Dred Scott v. Sandford


  1. Benamin Robbins Curtis (English). law.jrank.

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