The resulting decision in The Slaughterhouse Cases is one that is still debated and stands as a primary example of an unintended consequence of a constitutional amendment. Although historians and legal scholars have considered a number of the unintended consequences of the Fourteenth Amendment, one result, unforeseen by its proponents, has been totally overlooked... In the legal proceedings that came to be known as United States v. Jefferson Davis, a legal determination was required to determine whether or not Section 3 imposed a simple disqualification or an actual punishment...Could those who pushed for the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, those who some historians consider the last vestiges of the abolitionist movement, have foreseen that a section of the Amendment enacted to guarantee the rights of freed blacks would be used to free the man who symbolized the slaveocracy that they so despised?And moreover, could they have foreseen that the person who utilized this untended consequence would be Salmon P. Chase, one of the primary architects of anti-slavery litigation?
Connally, C. Ellen
"The Use of the Fourteenth Amendment by Salmon P. Chase in the Trial of Jefferson Davis,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 42
, Article 12.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol42/iss4/12