House looks to remove Roger Taney bust, Confederate statues

In this March 9, 2020, file photo a marble bust of Chief Justice Roger Taney is displayed in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Taney, who came from a wealthy, slave-owning family in Calvert County, Md., led the Supreme Court in the 1857 ruling against Dred Scott, an enslaved African American man, who had sued for his freedom.

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.”

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter:

@24_angier.

(21) comments

shiftless88

to the people who keep saying we don't want to "erase history" with this kind of thing. This is part of the concept of Critical Race Theory. You see, all this history was written by the white men. These statues were all commissioned by white men. Back when they were created, blacks had no power. No one was making statues of important blacks in this country. So by saying "we cannot erase history" you are saying "we cannot erase WHITE history" because the representation of history in this country is not fully representative.

artandarchitecture

Ben, (especially)-- I'm so glad you're on this project. With everything going on, I can't think of a better use of your time than to edit history so not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities. In your own hometown in 2020, you witnessed the Christopher Columbus landmark get toppled by rioters in Little Italy. And this has solved so, so, many problems.

shiftless88

Artie; why do you think the US military tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein? Did you protest that action?

shiftless88

Artie has a point, though. With all that is going on in this country we should be spending time on the IMPORTANT things. Like banning those five or so transgender athletes. Like changing voting laws to fix non-existent fraud. Or stopping the teaching of CRT, even though no one is actually teaching it. You know, important things. Solving fake problems.

NewMarketParent

@shiftless88

Isn't that the height of privilege though? Wanting the world to solve the problems that Artie thinks are important above all others including ones not experienced by him personally.

MD1756

Voting fraud does exist. My dead grandmother supposedly voted and got a thank you card because she was over 100 when she supposedly voted (but she only lived until June, not November that election year). No one was convicted because we don't know who voted for her but it was probably someone from the nursing home (employee or resident), but just because there was no conviction doesn't mean there wasn't any fraud. Now, I certainly don't believe any elections of federal politicians were adversely impacted by fraudulent votes but conceivably that could happen for local candidates. For example I believe MoCo's current County Executive won his primary by only 77 votes. In 2018 there were 396,015 registered democratic voters in MoCo, so it is not inconceivable that the outcome of a local election could be changed by fraudulent votes. The requirements to get a real ID driver's license in MD are more strict than the requirements for most voter ID laws. Heck, I had to get the State attorney General's office involved to get MVA to accept my NY Certificate of Birth Registration document (which on the back says it is legal proof of my place of birth and age). Requiring an actual ID shouldn't be that restrictive.

JerryR

Right on Art - these Ding-a-lings are too obsessed with replacing history they are most likely bound to repeat it in some way shape or form. And there are a lot of other pressing issues that need attention rather than this crap.

MD1756

The best choice is to get rid of all busts, paintings, etc. of people except in museums, and stop naming any public buildings, parks, etc. after people.

BornToHula2

Absolutely agree.

phydeaux994

The best thing to do would have been to just leave everything alone. Gen X and Millennials and Gen Z and Gen A don’t even know who these people are.

tonyc51

I am of the opinion that we need to replace both Cardin and Van Hollen in the senate at the first possible moment.

Joeseamhead

I think Van Hollen will be in the Senate for years. As to Cardin, there are rumors that he won’t seek re-election and there is a movement pushing for Jamie Raskin to run for his spot, and if Raskin were to decide to do so he would carry the state with ease. But there is also some that feel that Raskin would be a great next Speaker of the House when Nancy Pelosi retires.

tonyc51

The only thing that would be worse than the two current MD senators would be Raskin. He is my current rep and is an embarrassment.

NewMarketParent

@Joeseamhead

I really do hope Raskin runs if Cardin retires. He seems to really care and legitimately seems to value our nation and its institutions.

phydeaux994

👍

NewMarketParent

@tonyc51

Thank goodness no one takes your opinions seriously.

tonyc51

I bet they value them at least as much as they take your opinions seriously.

JerryR

👍👍👍

Brookhawk

It will be interesting to see who lines up for and against this. Taney is famous for writing that the negro had no rights a white man was bound to respect. That's ALL he was famous for. He was the figurehead of a time long past. Marshall is a better choice for today.

gabrielshorn2013

Lets not forget United States v. Schooner Amistad, 40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 518 (1841). Agreed, Marshall is a far better choice now.

Dwasserba

Agree Marshall is a better choice. Taney the man was perhaps more complex than you give him credit for (emancipated his own slaves) as was his era. Northerners reviled him during his lifetime. He should rest in obscurity now.

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