Bust of former chief justice, proslavery Marylander removed from US Capitol

A former chief justice of the United States behind an infamous proslavery ruling has lost his place of honor in the U.S. Capitol.

The marble bust of Roger Taney of Maryland has been permanently removed from the Old Senate Chamber. It was Taney who wrote the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in 1857.

Scott was a Black man who sought to sue for his freedom in federal court, but the high court’s decision declared that Scott couldn’t sue because as an enslaved man, he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. The decision also held that Congress couldn’t ban slavery.

Taney, an enslaver, wrote that Black people “had not rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Congress Taney
FILE — A marble bust of Chief Justice Roger Taney is displayed in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on March 9, 2020. The House approved a bill on Dec. 14, 2020, that calls for removing the bust of Taney who wrote the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to Black Americans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Senate Democrats Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with their fellow Marylander from the House, Steny Hoyer, joined Senate leaders to announce on Monday that the Taney bust was gone.

The House voted on a bill nearly two years ago to remove the bust from the U.S. Capitol.

Taney’s ruling further inflamed the nation in the years before the Civil War.

“The people we memorialize in the halls of the Capitol should be leaders who worked to expand liberty and build a more perfect union,” Van Hollen said.

The Taney bust will be replaced by the sculpture of another Marylander — the first African American on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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