Congress votes to remove bust of chief justice who authored Dred Scott decision

House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill to remove a bust of Roger B. Taney, the late Supreme Court justice who authored the Dred Scott decision in 1857, ruling that Black people could not become U.S. citizens. 

The legislation commissions a bust of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the court’s first Black justice, to be placed somewhere in the Capitol. 

The bust of Taney, the nation’s fifth chief justice, who led the court from 1836 to 1864, currently sits inside the entrance to the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol where the high court met from 1810 until 1860. Statues of Taney were previously removed in his home state of Maryland. 

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., led the effort in the House to remove the Taney bust.

‘Over 3 million people visit our Capitol each year,’ Hoyer said. ‘The people we choose to honor in our halls signal to those visitors which principles we cherish as a nation.’

The legislation directs the removal of the bust within 45 days of the bill being enacted into law. It will then remain in the custody of the Senate curator. It also calls for entering into an agreement to obtain a bust of Marshall within two years, and that priority for its location should be near the Old Supreme Court Chamber.

The bill was passed by voice vote and now goes to President Biden to be signed into law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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