Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney is well known for authoring the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which defended slavery while refusing to recognize Black Americans as citizens. Taney’s statue is also on display at the United States Capitol.
According to NBC News, the House passed a bill on Wednesday to remove Taney’s bust and replace it with that of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The legislation was approved by voice vote in the House. According to the judgment, Taney “renders a bust of his likeness inappropriate for the honor of presentation to the many visitors to the Capitol.”
“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 19 rooms,” the bill declares.
Taney’s bust can be found in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol Building. However, the Library Committee of Congress will eventually remove the bust and replace it with Marshall’s. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate last week. All that remains is for President Joe Biden to sign it.
In March 2020, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. David Trone introduced legislation. NBC News stated that despite a 305-113 vote in favor of the proposal in the House, it did not make it to the Senate. Taney’s statue was also removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House in 2017.
In recent years, Congress has also launched a drive to demolish Civil War-era monuments. In 2020, a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee was removed from the Capitol grounds. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also ordered the removal of four pictures of Confederate House Speakers.