Keywords: slavery , theories of interpretation , U.S. Supreme Court , federalism
The author analyzes some aspects of the current American theories of constitutional interpretation through the issue of slavery. The protagonists of the late debate (second half of the 1970s) over the judiciary attitude towards slavery have been mainly Robert Cover, Ronald Dworkin and John Mackie. A century after the abolition of slavery, these authors have discussed the position of the best-known judges of the American Supreme Court, during the thirty years before the Civil War, in the best-known cases concerning the «fugitive slave» Acts. The theories of interpretation have stated that the judges decided the cases in favor of slavery because they used the wrong principle of interpretation in their decisions. The a. claims that these cases have represented a real legal battle «over the structure of federalism».