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US House passes legislation to remove statues of racists from US Capitol
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US House passes legislation to remove statues of racists from US Capitol

The US House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to remove from the US Capitol building offensive statues of individuals who served the Confederacy, supported slavery and who otherwise defended and promoted white supremacy. The legislation was introduced in response to ongoing nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd, police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.

House Bill 7573 directs Architect of the Capitol to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol.” The bill also calls for the removal of the statues of white supremacists Charles Aycock, John Calhoun, and James Clarke. Finally, it seeks to replace the bust of antebellum United States Chief Justice Roger Taney with a bust of civil rights activist Justice Thurgood Marshall.  If this bill is passed in the Senate, all the statues concerned will have to be moved within 120 days after enactment.

To justify the removal of Taney’s bust, the bill declares that:

While sitting in the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court issued the infamous Dred Scott v Sanford decision on March 6, 1857. Written by Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, whose bust sits inside the entrance to the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the United States Capitol, this opinion declared that African Americans were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. This decision further declared that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories…While the removal of Chief Justice Roger Brook Taney’s bust from the United States Capitol does not relieve the Congress of the historical wrongs it committed to protect the institution of slavery, it expresses Congress’s recognition of one of the most notorious wrongs to have ever taken place in one of its rooms, that of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s Dred Scott v Sanford decision.

While the bill passed by a 305-113 vote in the House, it is expected to fail in the Republican-controlled senate.