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Ableman v. Booth

United States Supreme Court
62 U.S. 506 (1858)


Sherman Booth (defendant) was an abolitionist editor from Wisconsin. Booth was arrested in the 1850s and charged with violating the federal Fugitive Slave Act by helping a slave escape. Booth petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the writ, ruling that the Fugitive Slave Act was unconstitutional. The federal government petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review. The federal trial court then convicted Booth and sentenced him to a year in prison and to pay a fine of $1,000. Booth again petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which again granted the writ based on the unconstitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act. The federal government again petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Taney, C.J.)

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