With all respect for the opinion of others, I insist that the national legislature may, without transcending the limits of the Constitution, do for human liberty and the fundamental rights of American citizenship what it did, with the sanction of this court, for the protection of slavery and the rights of the masters of fugitive slaves. If fugitive slave laws, providing modes and prescribing penalties whereby the master could seize and recover his fugitive slave, were legitimate exercises of an implied power to protect and enforce a right recognized by the Constitution, why shall the hands of Congress be tied so that -- under an express power, by appropriate legislation, to enforce a constitutional provision granting citizenship -- it may not, by means of direct legislation, bring the whole power of this nation to bear upon States and their officers and upon such individuals and corporations exercising public functions as assume to abridge, impair, or deny rights confessedly secured by the supreme law of the land?
Scott goes on to point out that "federalism" claims, outside a narrow swath of academics, have always been mere facades for substantive state interests and are thrown away at the drop of a hat when the national government is doing something the "federalists" like. Fugitive Slave Act on the table? National power! Civil Rights Act? But what about states rights? Oh boo hoo.
Incidentally, while I give Harlan credit for his dissent here, he's still no hero.