Posted on December 16, 2022

Congress Votes to Remove a Bust of the Dred Scott Decision’s Author From the Capitol

Ashley Ahn, NPR, December 15, 2022

The House gave final passage to legislation to replace the bust of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision, in the Capitol with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black person to serve on the high court.

The notorious 1857 Dred Scott decision upheld slavery and established that Black people were not U.S. citizens. The legislation, which passed Wednesday and now heads to President Biden’s desk, says the bust is “unsuitable for the honor of display to the many visitors to the Capitol.”

The statue of Taney sits at the entrance of the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol where the Supreme Court met from 1810 to 1860. Taney, the fifth chief justice, led the court from 1836 to 1864.

“While the removal of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s bust from the Capitol does not relieve the Congress of the historical wrongs it committed to protect the institution of slavery, it expresses Congress’s recognition of one of the most notorious wrongs to have ever taken place in one of its rooms, that of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s Dred Scott v. Sandford decision,” the legislation says.