Posted on February 9, 2023

Statue of Maryland-Born Author of Notorious Dred Scott Decision Removed From Capitol

Ian Decker, Capital News Service, February 9, 2023

The bust of Roger Taney, the Maryland-born justice who wrote the notorious 1857 Dred Scott decision ruling African Americans were not citizens, has been removed from the United States Capitol, an effort led by Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer.

The statue will be replaced by a new work honoring Justice Thurgood Marshall, a champion of civil rights.

Taney’s bust for years was in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol. {snip}


In one of the most infamous decisions the court has issued, Taney, born in Calvert County, Maryland, delivered the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which refused Black Americans the right to citizenship and ruled unconstitutional the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which sought to limit the spread of slavery in new territories in the upper Plains and the West.


Replacing Taney with Marshall is part of a recent movement to eliminate artwork commemorating former slave-owning and Confederate historical figures from prominent locations in the Capitol. The House in June 2021 voted to remove all Confederate statues and busts in the Capitol from public display, but the measure did not clear the Senate.

A recent Washington Post analysis of more than 400 works of art in the Capitol found that over 33 percent depicted enslavers or Confederates — most notably, the statues of Jefferson Davis, Christopher Columbus and Joseph Wheeler, a Confederate cavalry general who staunchly supported secession.

“When millions of visitors to the Capitol walked past Taney’s bust each year, they saw the worst that America has to offer,” Hoyer said in a statement. “Thanks to this same legislation, they will soon see the best America has to offer when walking past a new bust of civil-rights icon Justice Thurgood Marshall.”