Md. Senate Prez Irked by How His Colleagues Went About Voting to Remove Taney Statue

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Roger Taney’s since-removed statue in Annapolis. Photo via City of Annapolis.

The Democratic president of Maryland’s senate is upset about emails – specifically those relating to the removal of Roger Taney’s bronze likeness outside the State House.

In a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (shared by WBAL this morning), Mike Miller concluded that “voting on this matter by email was just plain wrong.”  On Wednesday, the trust held a vote by email, rather than in person, to remove the statue of the Supreme Court chief justice known best for ruling that black people could only be property, and certainly not U.S. citizens, in the 1857 case Dred Scott v. Sandford.

Miller and Hogan are two of the four voting members in the Maryland State House Trust, along with House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch and Charles Edson, board chairman of the Maryland Historical Trust. Hogan, Busch and Edelson each voted to remove the statue; Miller didn’t vote.

Overnight last night, crews carted off the bronze statue of Taney from the State House lawn.

Miller evidently was expecting more. In his letter, he wrote that he had called for a public meeting, which he noted took place when the state decided to install a statue of Baltimore-born Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1996.

“This was certainly a matter of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred,” Miller said.

He dove into the complex history of Taney’s legal career and personal life: how he he worked to help free slaves early in his life; how he represented an abolitionist minister when he was an attorney; how he authored an opinion about South Carolina’s attempt to secede from the Union that President Abraham Lincoln used to deem the move invalid.

Miller had said earlier this week that he opposed removing Taney’s bust from the grounds of the State House, but that he wouldn’t stand in Hogan’s way. A day before, Busch had openly called for its removal. The governor surprised many by agreeing with him, a complete reversal from his views in 2015.

The State House Trust seldom meets in person, preferring to cast votes by email instead, the Sun’s Pamela Wood reports. In fact, the group has only met twice in person since 2010, according to WBAL.

Hogan’s spokesman, Doug Mayer, told both of the above outlets, “Miller is completely within his right to continue defending Roger Taney. We have to agree to disagree.”

Taney’s statue is the fifth one removed around Maryland this week, following the four extractions ordered by Mayor Catherine Pugh in Baltimore overnight on Wednesday. Baltimore and Annapolis are among a group number of cities that have dismantled and relocated monuments with Confederate ties in the wake of last week’s deadly violence between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters in the streets of Charlottesville.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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1 COMMENT

  1. Miller didn’t vote. That’s his clever way of keeping his racist constituency happy. Conclusion: Gov. Hogan should be commended for his bold move. Miller should be suspected of being a racist/racist sympathizer.

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