December 4, 2023

Bill Calls for Removal of Taney Bust From Capitol


House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer was joined by other representatives to introduce HR 7573, a bill to replace the bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber with one of Justice Thurgood Marshall and to remove other shameful reminders of slavery and segregation from the US Capitol.

The bill would require states to reclaim and replace any statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection of individuals who volunteered for the armed services of the Confederacy during the Civil War. It would also specifically remove three statues – of John C. Calhoun, Charles B. Aycock, and John C. Clarke – from the collection because of those individuals’ role in defending slavery, segregation, and white supremacy.

Rep. Hoyer spoke on the House floor July 22 in support of the bill. Click here to watch the video.

Also introducing the bill were Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (CA), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (MS), and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC).

“[This month], the Democratic-led House will take a historic vote to show our country and the world that statues honoring defenders of racism, slavery, segregation, and white supremacy are not welcome in the U.S. Capitol building,” Leader Hoyer said. “It is appropriate that our bill removes the bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the author of the Dred Scott ruling in 1857 that upheld slavery, from the Old Supreme Court Chamber and replaces it with that of Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Marylander who fought for civil rights and equality as the court’s first African-American justice. It is reprehensible that individuals who did so much to divide our country and dehumanize African Americans are honored in the halls of Congress. I hope all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in supporting this bill to right historical wrongs and ensure that the only people honored with busts and statues in the Capitol are those whose actions furthered the causes of liberty, unity, and equal rights.”

“In this moment, the horrors of systemic racism are front and center and the manifestations are before the public each and every day. The removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol is an important step in dismantling the systems that hold us back on our path forward.” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “As I said when I first introduced the Confederate Statue Removal Act in 2017: these painful symbols of bigotry and racism have no place in our society and certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol. Justice Thurgood Marshall, a champion of equality and justice, is a fantastic addition to our Capitol and embodies the efforts we are making to eliminate symbols of hate and injustice.”

“Memorials that glorify the Confederacy, segregationists, and white supremacists should not hold places of honor in our nation’s Capitol. These hallowed halls should be used to promote true American heroes and all its people,” Whip Clyburn said. “Some statues and other honorifics to John C. Calhoun in my home state of South Carolina are already coming down. Those of us who serve in this august body must lead by example as well and remove the Calhoun statue and other who represented similarly destructive and divisive views of their fellow Americans.”

“The people’s house can never really be for the people, with reminders of a painful history that sought to eliminate our existence,” said Congresswoman Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “That is why I am proud to join my colleagues today to introduce HR 7573 to not only remove the bust of Chief Justice Robert Taney but of all other statues of defenders of slavery and segregation in the US Capitol. The removal of Chief Justice Taney’s bust and others like him is long overdue in our nation’s capital. These statues are meant to honor people who have had a positive influence on our country. We are in a new era where we are reexamining our history and acknowledging that the physical reminders of white supremacy, cannot continue to be celebrated. With initiatives such as the 1619 Project which commemorated the 400 years of enslavement in America, the CBC’s historic trip to Ghana, the opening of an exhibit dedicated to Sally Hemmings in Jefferson’s Monticello mansion, and the creation of the Slave Memorial at Mount Vernon shows us that US history is being retold- the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is time to replace the monuments of oppression with the monuments of liberty.”

“After talking with several religious leaders, I am happy to join this bill doing away with symbols that continue to divide and haunt this country. We do this in a spirit of racial reconciliation and healing,” said Congressman Thompson.

Read the text of HR 7573 here.

Follow Congressman Hoyer on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader member page.

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