Speed Reads

Controversy

Statue of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice behind Dred Scott, is being removed from Maryland State House grounds

Early Friday morning, crews began to work on removing a statue of Roger B. Taney, the former Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and ruled that any person with African descent could not be a citizen, from the grounds of the Maryland State House.

Any change to the building or grounds must be approved by the State House Trust, and the four-member panel voted to remove the statue on Wednesday, with three in favor and one, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D), not voting. He wrote in an email that Taney used "inflammatory and derogatory language" in the Dred Scott case, but said Taney "served with distinction" when he was a Maryland state attorney general and U.S. attorney general and did remain loyal to the Union, The Baltimore Sun reports. Miller also said there is "balance" because on the opposite side of the state house grounds stands a statue of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

The plan is to remove the statue from the base, cover the base in plywood, then store the statue for the Maryland State Archives, The Baltimore Sun reports. The statue was installed in 1872, and while there was increased pressure to remove it following the events in Charlottesville over the weekend, the statue has been controversial for several years.