Maryland’s U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D) are joining three former presidential candidates in pushing for the bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney in the U.S. Capitol to be replaced with one of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the high court.
The senators introduced Senate Bill 2366 on Friday along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), mirroring legislation approved last month by the House of Representatives. The bill would also require the removal of statues and artwork of people who voluntarily fought for the Confederacy, according to the lawmakers.
“Thurgood Marshall was an inspiration who helped tear down the walls of segregation in America. It is wholly appropriate that such a civil rights and legal icon displace Roger Taney in the U.S. Capitol,” Cardin said in a news release about the introduced legislation. “Celebrating Marshall’s voice of equality and opportunity is exactly what our nation needs at this moment, rather than continuing to memorialize those who spew hate or defended slavery.”
Taney served as the high court’s fifth chief justice from 1836 until his death in 1864. He is best known for delivering the majority decision for the Dred Scott v. Sanford case, which argued that Black people were never intended to be American citizens and “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Marshall, meanwhile, in arguments in Murray v. Pearson led to the desegregation of the University of Maryland Law School — an institution he had been denied admission to years earlier due to the color of his skin. Two decades later, he presented arguments in Brown v. Board of Education in front of the high court.
“As we work to build a more perfect union, we must also redouble our efforts to bring to the forefront the leaders in our history that have propelled us towards justice and end the glorification of those who stood in its way,” Van Hollen said in the release. “From his neighborhood in Baltimore to the halls of the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall worked his entire life to help build civil rights in America from the ground up.”