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Maryland Governor Orders Removal of Chief Justice Taney Statue

On the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, descendants of Scott and Taney come together at the Taney statue in front of the Maryland State House on March 6, 2017, in Annapolis, Md. (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who found in the 1857 Dred Scott decision that a slave had no right to sue for his freedom, removed from the grounds of the state house.

His 2018 challenger for the governor’s seat, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, claimed that Hogan was making a political move a day after Jealous gave a statement in front of the Taney statue calling for its removal.

Taney, who was born in Calvert County, wrote in the 7-2 opinion for the majority that the framers of the Constitution regarded blacks “as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

“…It is obvious that they were not even in the minds of the framers of the Constitution when they were conferring special rights and privileges upon the citizens of a State in every other part of the Union. Indeed, when we look to the condition of this race in the several States at the time, it is impossible to believe that these rights and privileges were intended to be extended to them.”

Hogan said this evening that Maryland “has always been a state of middle temperament, which is a guiding principle of our administration.”

“While we cannot hide from our history — nor should we — the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history,” the governor said in a statement. “With that in mind, I believe removing the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds is the right thing to do, and we will ask the State House Trust to take that action immediately.”

Jealous slammed Hogan in a Facebook post: “Before today, Larry Hogan’s position was that removing the Roger Taney statue would be ‘political correctness run amok,'” he said. “The only difference between now and then is that Governor Hogan is running for re-election. Real leadership doesn’t tie our values to the political calendar. And our children should know that doing what’s right should matter more than political convenience.”

In March, 160 years after the Dred Scott decision, Taney’s descendants met with Scott’s descendants to apologize for the justice’s ruling. Both families said then that they wanted Taney’s statue to remain with a statue of Scott installed nearby.