Press Release

December 9, 2022
Cardin, Van Hollen, Klobuchar and Booker Lead Unanimous Senate Action to Remove Bust of Dred Scott Author from the U.S. Capitol, Add a Bust of Thurgood Marshall

WASHINGTON  — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), along with Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) praised final approval by the Senate Thursday 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. 522. “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.”

“From his hometown of Baltimore to the halls of the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall worked his entire life to secure civil rights for every American and build a more perfect union,” said Senator Van Hollen. “We need to lift up trailblazing leaders like him, who have propelled our nation towards justice – and end the glorification of those who stood in its way. That’s why we fought to pass this bill to memorialize Justice Marshall’s work and honor his legacy and will push to move it through the House quickly.”

“From his work as a civil rights lawyer pushing to end segregated schools to his trailblazing tenure on the highest court in the land, Justice Thurgood Marshall fought tirelessly throughout his career to advance justice and equality for all,” said Senator Klobuchar. “The Capitol is our most recognizable symbol of democracy, a place where all Americans have their voices represented and heard.  We must ensure that its art reflects the values on which our country stands. It is only fitting that we honor Justice Marshall’s service to our country by installing a bust of this groundbreaking Justice in the Capitol, ensuring that his legacy will be commemorated in the heart of our democracy.” 

The full bill text can be downloaded at this link.