The Volokh Conspiracy

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1619 Project

Bluebook Adopts Rule Requiring Slavery Parentheticals

"For cases involving an enslaved person as a party, use the parenthetical '(enslaved party).'"


Last year, Will Baude and Steve Sachs, and I, wrote about a proposed Bluebook rule that would require slavery parentheticals. That proposal has been adopted, and is now part of the Bluebook.

Rule 10.7.1(d) now covers slave cases. For cases involving an enslaved person as a party, use the parenthetical "(enslaved party)." For cases involving an enslaved person as the subject of a property or other legal dispute but named as a party to the suit, use the parenthetical "(enslaved person at issue)." For other cases involving enslaved persons, use an adequately-descriptive parenthetical.

  • Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857) (enslaved party), superseded by constitutional amendmentU.S. Const. amend. XIV.
  • Wall v. Wall, 30 Miss. 91 (1855) (enslaved person at issue).

There are some obvious candidates for the first parenthetical, such as Dred Scott. And I think Prigg would warrant the second parenthetical. Beyond the well-known cases, I'm not sure how authors would know if a case involved slavery in some fashion. Would any case prior to the 13th Amendment now have to be checked? I will wait patiently for a law review editor to order me to add a parenthetical for Dred Scott.

Update: The citation to Dred Scott suggests that the Bluebook editors are endorsing Chief Justice Taney's conclusion. The dissenters, as well as Dred and Harriet Scott, would not say they were slaves. The entire point of the case was to argue that the couple was emancipated! Like with the 1619 Project, the Bluebook Editors have to line up with Chief Justice Taney to make their point.