“It’s time to stop glorifying white supremacists in black robes and Confederate traitors who defected from the union and took up arms against the United States,” Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said. “It’s one thing to remember the nation’s Confederate traitors, it’s another thing to glorify them.”
There was also some deep stupidity on display, exemplified by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who just couldn’t resist the opportunity to tout the Republican outrage de jour and insist that it’s the Democrats who are racist because they’re pointing out racism. “All the statues being removed by this bill are of Democrats,” McCarthy said. “Democrats are desperate to pretend their party has progressed from their days of supporting slavery, pushing Jim Crow laws, and supporting the KKK,” he continued. “But today, the Democrat Party has simply replaced the racism of the past with the racism of critical race theory.”
In addition to specifying that the bust of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney be removed from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol, the bill directs the architect of the Capitol to identify and remove all of the statues and busts that depict members of the Confederacy within 45 days of the resolution’s enactment. It specifies just three other individuals, defenders of slavery and segregation: Charles Brantley Aycock, John Caldwell Calhoun and James Paul Clarke.
This presents yet another test for Mitch McConnell’s Senate Republicans, and for Democrats still defending the Jim Crow filibuster in that body. The House passed a version of this same legislation last year, but McConnell as then-majority leader refused to bring it to the floor for a vote, saying it was unnecessary and the states should choose whether or not to have the statues representing them in the U.S. Capitol removed. He—and his whole conference—can’t avoid this vote now, but whether there are 10 Senate Republicans willing to reject white supremacy and break a filibuster is unclear.