Skip to main content
Government & Politics

Bust of former chief justice, proslavery Marylander removed from U.S. Capitol

Lawmakers announced Monday that a bust of Roger Brooke Taney that previously sat outside the historic Supreme Court chambers in the U.S. Capitol has been removed. U.S. Senate file photo.

By Dick Uliano

A former chief justice of the United States behind an infamous proslavery ruling has lost his place of honor in the U.S. Capitol.

The marble bust of Roger Taney of Maryland has been permanently removed from the Old Senate Chamber. It was Taney who wrote the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in 1857.

Scott was a Black man who sought to sue for his freedom in federal court, but the high court’s decision declared that Scott couldn’t sue because as an enslaved man, he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. The decision also held that Congress couldn’t ban slavery.

Taney, an enslaver, wrote that Black people “had not rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Senate Democrats Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with their fellow Marylander from the House, Steny Hoyer, joined Senate leaders to announce on Monday that the Taney bust was gone.

The House voted on a bill nearly two years ago to remove the bust from the U.S. Capitol.

Taney’s ruling further inflamed the nation in the years before the Civil War.

“The people we memorialize in the halls of the Capitol should be leaders who worked to expand liberty and build a more perfect union,” Van Hollen said.

The Taney bust will be replaced by the sculpture of another Marylander — the first African American on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Dick Uliano. Click here for the WTOP News website.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our website. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

If you have any questions, please email editor Danielle Gaines at [email protected]

To republish, copy the following text and paste it into your HTML editor.


Creative Commons License AttributionCreative Commons Attribution
Bust of former chief justice, proslavery Marylander removed from U.S. Capitol