JONES v. VANZANDT
Nine slaves who lived in Kentucky escaped into Ohio, to head north toward freedom. VanZandt gave them a ride in his wagon. Two slavehunters gave chase and took VanZandt and the slaves to Kentucky. VanZandt was later charged with harboring and concealing slaves in violation of the federal Fugitive Slave Act. Van Zandt lost and he appealed his case to the Supreme Court.
Is the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional because the Constitution confers to Congress no power over the subject?
The Fugitive Slave Law was constitutional. Slavery remained a matter for the states individually to decide. Southern participation in the Union imposed a promise on the Constitution protecting the institution of slavery. There was no "higher law" that justified striking down a constitutionally permissible statute.