Biden signs bill to remove bust of Dred Scott decision author from Capitol
President Biden signed a bill on Tuesday that removes the bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the court’s Dred Scott decision, from the Capitol Building.
The bill, which passed the House and Senate by voice vote earlier this month, also directs the bust to be replaced with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice who was known for his civil rights work.
Democrats had pushed for the removal for multiple years. The House previously passed a bill to remove Taney’s bust in a 285-120 vote in June 2021, but the Senate did not take up the legislation.
Taney authored the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which ruled that people of African descent were not citizens and consequently could not sue in federal court.
The decision also deemed the Missouri Constitution unconstitutional, ruling that Congress could not ban slavery in the territories.
Taney’s opinion was later effectively overturned with the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, which outlawed slavery and guaranteed citizenship for all people born or naturalized in the U.S., respectively.
“As a fellow Baltimore native, I am particularly proud that Justice Marshall, a deeply admired jurist and a trailblazing champion of civil rights, will soon take his place amid the Capitol’s pantheon of great American patriots,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement upon the House passing the bill.
The bill directs the Congressional Joint Committee on the Library to remove the Taney bust, which is located in the Old Supreme Court Chamber within the Capitol Building, and to obtain a bust of Marshall for installation in the Capitol or on the Capitol Grounds.
Biden signed the legislation alongside a host of other bills on Tuesday before he left for the Virgin Islands for a vacation during the New Year’s holiday.
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