Congress votes to remove bust of Justice Roger Taney, author of infamous Dred Scott decision

Bust of Taney
(Image credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Congress on Thursday passed legislation calling for the removal of the bust of Justice Roger Brooke Taney from the Capitol. The fifth chief justice wrote the infamous decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) concluding that enslaved people were not considered U.S. citizens and therefore not afforded constitutional and legal protections. It is regarded as one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history.

The passed legislation states that Taney is "unsuitable for the honor of display to the many visitors to the Capitol." The decision to remove the bust is now in the hands of President Biden. The bill also calls for the bust to be replaced with a bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black man to serve on the Supreme Court, reports The New York Times.

The House bill was sponsored by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who hails from the same state as Taney. "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," he said.

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The removal comes as another step in ridding government buildings, including the Capitol, of Confederate-era figures. The removal of Taney's bust has been under discussion since 2020, however former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had called the initiative "a bridge too far." Under a Democratic Congress, the bill finally passed.

The legislation states that the removal, "does not relieve the Congress of the historical wrongs it committed," but "expresses Congress's recognition of one of the most notorious wrongs to have ever taken place in one of its rooms."

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