A statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney was removed from the State House grounds early Friday morning, following a key state committee vote, cast by email earlier this week. Taney is best known for writing the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery by ruling that black people could not be US citizens.
But a day after the State House Trust voted, Senate President Mike Miller jumped to Taney’s defense.
In a letter sent Thursday to Gov. Larry Hogan, Miller — the only member of the four-person State House Trust who opposes removing the statue — criticized the decision not to discuss Taney's legacy at a public meeting before voting.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, representing Hogan on the committee, voted in favor of removing the statue, as did House Speaker Michael Busch and Charles Edson, chairman of the Maryland Historical Trust. Miller did not vote.
Although Taney is best known for a decision that declared that blacks had no, quote, “rights the white man is bound to respect,” Miller noted that he also served in several roles in state and federal government.
Taney was U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson. He was the first Catholic justice of the Supreme Court and the only Chief Justice from Maryland.
Earlier this week, Baltimore removed a second statue of Taney from its pedestal on Mount Vernon Place.