WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today applauded President Joe Biden’s final approval of legislation that would remove the bust of the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision from public display in the U.S. Capitol and add a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on our nation’s highest court.
As noted in their bill, S. 5229. “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 Dred Scott decision, written by Taney in 1857, “declared that African Americans were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. This decision further declared that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories.” The effects of Dred Scott would be overturned years later by the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
“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,” said Senator Cardin. “Both hailed from Maryland, but Marshall was a beacon of hope for racial equality. His uplifting voice of equality and opportunity is exactly what our nation needs at this moment.”
“Justice Thurgood Marshall dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and civil rights for all. We should be elevating leaders like him in our Capitol – those who broke down barriers on the path to shape the United States into the more perfect union we strive to create – not those like Roger Taney who fought to hold us back,” said Senator Van Hollen. “As we continue the fight to build a more just and equal America, I’m grateful to President Biden for signing our bill to memorialize Justice Marshall’s work in the halls of Congress and honor his legacy of propelling our nation towards justice.”
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also co-sponsored this legislation, which can be downloaded at this link.