Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
September 24, 2021
Contact Info: 
Maya Valentine 202-225-4131
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) was joined by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC-06), Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03), Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-04), Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Congressman David Trone (MD-06), and Congressman Kweisi Mfume (MD-07) in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to call for Senate action on H.R. 3005, legislation to remove the bust of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney from the U.S. Capitol building and replace it with a bust of Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall. The legislation, which the House passed on June 29 of this year, would also remove from public display in the U.S. Capitol other statues or busts that are symbols of slavery and segregation, including statues and busts of those who served voluntarily in the Confederate States of America.

“In June, the House passed H.R. 3005, which calls for the removal of a bust of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol.  It would further require the removal of several other statues from the National Statuary Collection of individuals who served in the Confederacy during the Civil War and who were notorious proponents of slavery and segregation.  The House passed a similar bill last Congress as well.  We write to you because we are asking that the Senate schedule a vote on H.R. 3005 as soon as possible,” the lawmakers wrote.

“These sacred spaces should be reserved for those we revere: honorable Americans of whose deeds and legacies we can all be proud.  Our legislation would replace Taney’s bust with one of Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court.  Marshall, a civil rights champion, played a central role in bringing an end to segregation in the United States.  He represents the best of our history and deserves a place of high honor in the Capitol’s tribute to the great jurists of the Supreme Court,” the lawmakers continued. “Statues of those who defended slavery and Jim Crow, including those honoring the men listed above, are being taken down by communities across the nation concerned about what message they send to today’s children and to future generations.  The State of Maryland has already removed Taney’s statue, and Virginia has recalled its statue of Robert E. Lee.  The House has now advanced our legislation twice.  We would hope that the Senate would now move this legislation.  Every moment we delay is a missed opportunity to correct historical wrongs.  We thank you for your support for this legislation and look forward to Senate action.”

Click here to read the text of the letter or see below:

September 24, 2021
Hon. Chuck Schumer
Majority Leader
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Sen. Schumer:

In June, the House passed H.R. 3005, which calls for the removal of a bust of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol.  It would further require the removal of several other statues from the National Statuary Collection of individuals who served in the Confederacy during the Civil War and who were notorious proponents of slavery and segregation.  The House passed a similar bill last Congress as well.  We write to you because we are asking that the Senate schedule a vote on H.R. 3005 as soon as possible. 

Chief Justice Taney was the author of the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford decision – a racist, unjust, and unconstitutional ruling that, to this day, represents a moral stain on the history of our nation’s highest court.  It was Taney’s belief that no African American, free or enslaved, could be a citizen of the United States.  His decision was wrong then and is wrong now, continuing to be used by extremists and purveyors of hatred and intolerance.

In much the same way, the statues of former Confederate officials and antebellum or post-Civil War individuals who were extollers and enablers of slavery and segregation ought to have no place in our Capitol.  These individuals include: John Calhoun, Charles Aycock, James Paul Clarke, Jefferson Davis, James Z. George, Wade Hampton, John Kenna, Uriah Rose, Alexander Stephens, Zebulon Vance, Joseph Wheeler, Edward White, and John C. Breckenridge.  All of them would be removed from the building under our legislation.

It should not be the case that a bust of Taney is displayed in the Old Supreme Court Chamber and in the U.S. Capitol building in the year 2021. It should neither be the case that individuals like Alexander Stephens or Charles Aycock remain in our marble and bronze pantheon of great Americans.  Those who walk the halls of this building see Taney’s bust next to jurists like John Marshall and John Jay and observe segregationists and proponents of slavery displayed with the same honor as the statues of Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as if these individuals are, or ever were, morally comparable.  The names and faces of those who championed slavery, sedition, and segregation have no place in this temple of American freedom and democracy. 

These sacred spaces should be reserved for those we revere: honorable Americans of whose deeds and legacies we can all be proud.  Our legislation would replace Taney’s bust with one of Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court.  Marshall, a civil rights champion, played a central role in bringing an end to segregation in the United States.  He represents the best of our history and deserves a place of high honor in the Capitol’s tribute to the great jurists of the Supreme Court. 

Statues of those who defended slavery and Jim Crow, including those honoring the men listed above, are being taken down by communities across the nation concerned about what message they send to today’s children and to future generations.  The State of Maryland has already removed Taney’s statue, and Virginia has recalled its statue of Robert E. Lee.  The House has now advanced our legislation twice.  We would hope that the Senate would now move this legislation.  Every moment we delay is a missed opportunity to correct historical wrongs.  We thank you for your support for this legislation and look forward to Senate action.

Sincerely,