House Dems announce vote to remove Confederate statues, fail to mention 9 of 11 honor Democrats

A bust of Chief Justice Roger Taney, a registered Democrat who wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case of 1857, would also be removed.

Updated: July 22, 2020 - 2:47pm

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House is voting Wednesday on legislation that would remove Confederate statues — nine of which commemorate members of the Democratic Party — from the Capitol, as well as a bust of a Supreme Court justice, who was a registered Democrat.

House Democratic leaders held a press conference about the legislation and the history of the Confederacy on Wednesday but did not mention the party affiliation of the individuals that the statues and the bust honor.

The statues that would be removed from the Capitol Building include Edmund Kirby Smith and Robert E. Lee, who did not have a documented political affiliation, according to historical accounts. Lee reportedly joined Democrats in opposition to Republicans who "demanded punitive measures against the South" during Reconstruction. The rest of the Confederates that the statues honor were Democrats.

Chief Justice Roger Taney, a Federalist who registered as a Democrat in 1828, wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision of 1857, which ruled that Americans of African descent, whether enslaved or free, were not U.S. citizens. Taney was not a Confederate, but a bust of him would also be removed from the Capitol as part of the legislation.

California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, suggested that the Confederate statues could be moved to the jail in the basement of the Capitol Building.

"Their role in history should be remembered, but it should be accurately told so individuals like these never rise to powerful positions in our nation again," she said.

Hoyer told reporters that the legislation, if signed into law, would "relegate the statues to history but not to honor."

"I hope it will pass in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion," he said.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn said statues of Confederates in public places should be moved to a museum. He had a direct message for those who argue that the public statues should stay in place because they are part of history.

"Hate is a heritage," he said.

Hoyer explained that a process would be put in place to determine the exact location of each statue if the legislation becomes law.

"These statues are part of our history," Hoyer said. "We cannot deny our history. In fact, if we deny our history, it has been said we are condemned to relive our history, so we'll have a process that needs to be pursued."

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