Statue Of Thurgood Marshall To Replace Bust Of Pro-Slavery Supreme Court Justice At The Capitol

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The statue of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney will be replaced by a statue of American civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall in the Capitol, according to NBC News.

House lawmakers passed a bill on December 14 calling for the removal of Taney’s bust, referring to it as “unsuitable for the honor of display to the many visitors to the Capitol.” Taney wrote the notorious Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery and said that Black people were not U.S. citizens. 

According to NBC News, the statue of Taney, who led the Supreme Court from 1836 to 1864, sits at the entrance to the Old Supreme Court Chamber in 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 rooms, that of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s Dred Scott v. Sandford decision,” the legislation says. 

As part of a national initiative to remove white supremacist symbols across the nation, Taney’s home state of Maryland previously removed statues of him. Nearly 100 Confederate monuments have been removed since the death of George Floyd in 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, which sparked worldwide racial justice demonstrations.

“Taney’s ruling denied Black Americans citizenship, upheld slavery, and contributed, frankly, to the outbreak of the Civil War,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who led the effort to remove the statue, said on the House floor last Wednesday. “That’s why I and so many others advocated for his statue’s removal from the Maryland State House.”

“For Black Americans who have grown up in segregation, face racial violence, and still confront institutional racism today, seeing figures like Taney honored here is a searing reminder that the past is present. It need not be, however, our future,” Hoyer said.

Calling himself a “son of the segregated South,” Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, welcomed the legislation. “To those of us who have had to sit in the back of the bus, the balcony of the movie, and go to the back doors of restaurants, it means a lot,” he said.

Senate Republicans stalled on a measure to remove Taney’s bust and replace it with Marshall’s statue in 2020, but the latest bill passed the Senate earlier this month. It will now be sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. Taney’s bust must be removed within 45 days of the bill becoming law.

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