December 14, 2022

Lee, Hoyer, Clyburn, Thompson, and House Democrats Praise Passage of Legislation to Remove Hate from the Halls of Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) joined House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC-06), Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), 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), Congressman Kweisi Mfume (MD-07); Chairman of the Rules Committee Jim McGovern (MD-02), Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Congressman Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) in praising passage of legislation to remove hate from Congress. The bill, S.5229, which passed the Senate last week, will direct the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library to remove the bust of Roger Brooke Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the Capitol and to obtain a bust of Thurgood Marshall for installation in the Capitol near the Old Supreme Court Chamber.

“Memorials that glorify the horrors of racism have no place in this country—especially in the halls of our Capitol,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Today, the House took a historic step towards righting the wrongs of the past by passing this bill to remove the bust of Roger Brooke Taney, the architect of the atrocious Dred Scott decision, and to replace it with a bust of Thurgood Marshall, a champion of civil rights. As we approach the second anniversary of January 6th, this act could not come at a more important time to remind the public that this nation will not stand for bigotry or discrimination in any form. I look forward to continuing to fight alongside my colleagues to right historical wrongs and advance equality and justice.”

“Symbols of hatred, prejudice, and bigotry have no place in our nation’s Capitol,” said Congressman Hoyer, “Individuals like Roger Brooke Taney, who was the architect of the infamous Dred Scott decision, inflamed the harmful rhetoric that African Americas were not entitled to the same basic freedoms our Constitution upholds. His dangerous opinion was the precursor to decades of oppression and violence targeted toward Black Americans. It is a shameful stain on our nation’s history, but it is never too late to do the right thing. The legislation passed today would remove his bust from the Old Supreme Court and establish a commission to place the bust of Thurgood Marshall, a proud Marylander, on the Capitol grounds. Americans like Thurgood Marshall, who spent a lifetime championing equality and civil rights, are the type of leaders who deserve to be admired by all those who visit our Capitol. I am proud to have fought for legislation that makes it clear that symbols of slavery, sedition, and violence should not hold places of honor here in Congress. I will continue to work alongside my colleagues to remove hate and make sure our Capitol reflects the best of our country.”

“As a student of history, I often say the U.S. Capitol is akin to America’s classroom. While it is important to know our past, we should not honor those who sought to divide our nation with likenesses in these hallowed halls,” said Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. “In authoring the Supreme Court majority opinion declaring Black people, whose ancestors were enslaved, could not be considered American citizens, Roger Brooke Taney cemented his place in history alongside those who stood against the values that make this country great. It is only fitting that this legislation directs his bust is removed. I am pleased a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, whose commitment to civil rights and the advancement of our most marginalized communities, will be placed in the Capitol to represent the principles of democracy and freedom we cherish today.”

“I am proud to have passed legislation to remove symbols that continue to divide this country,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson. “We do this in spirit of racial reconciliation and healing. Hate has no place in our society, let alone the Halls of Congress. Roger Brooke Taney promoted the false narrative that African Americans lack the same fundamental liberties that our constitution preserves. We must do everything in our power to uphold this democracy. By removing Roger Brooke Taney and replacing a bust of Thurgood Marshall, it will start a new movement for African Americans. Equality is a human right. Statutes often commemorate those who stood for justice and peace, not what Roger Brooke believed in."