Local Frederick Government Officials Must Decide on Taney Bust

Oct 15, 2015

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney
Credit government photograph

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - It's been vandalized, glorified and criticized. Now Frederick's Board of Aldermen must decide whether a bronze bust of the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision affirming slavery should be removed from the grounds of City Hall.

The scheduled vote Thursday night follows years of debate about the legacy of Roger Brooke Taney (TAW'-nee), who practiced law in Frederick before becoming the nation's fifth chief justice.

The 7-2 opinion held that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in new territories. Taney wrote that the framers of the Constitution regarded blacks as "inferior" beings with no citizenship rights. The ruling is regarded as a catalyst of the Civil War.

Defenders of the statue say Taney's other rulings and actions show that he personally abhorred slavery.