Posted on March 11, 2020

‘Reexamining Our History’: Dems Want to Remove Roger Taney Bust from Capitol

Gabriella Muñoz and Jeff Mordock, The Washington Times, March 9, 2020

House Democrats said Monday they will try to toss the bust of former Chief Justice Roger Taney from the collection in the U.S. Capitol, saying the Maryland jurist’s role in writing the decision in the 1857 Dred Scott ruling makes him unfit for that honor.

The bust sits in the old Supreme Court chambers, now preserved for history, on the ground floor of the Capitol.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said he wants to replace it with one of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black man to serve on the Supreme Court.


The Dred Scott decision confirmed that the Constitution did not recognize slaves as U.S. citizens and therefore they could not sue in federal court. It also declared the Missouri Compromise, a deal meant to appease escalating tensions over slavery, unconstitutional, barring Congress from prohibiting slavery in the western territories.

The decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments about a decade later.


In Maryland, statues of Taney were pulled from Baltimore and the state Capitol grounds in Annapolis in 2017.


Rep. Andy Harris, the sole Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, said he disagrees with the push to remove the bust.

“I do not support denying history by removing Chief Justice Taney’s bust — but instead using its presence as a teaching moment by adding Justice Marshall’s bust, along with a plaque about how flawed the Dred Scott decision was ultimately found to be — the proof being the appointment of Thurgood Marshall,” the lawmaker, who represents Maryland’s Eastern Shore, said in an email to The Times.

Mr. Hoyer said he didn’t want to send mixed signals.

“I don’t want anybody confused [that] they’re good people on both sides,” Mr. Hoyer said, referring to President Trump’s controversial remarks in 2017 after race-tinged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.