Prince George's senator criticizes Miller position on Taney statue

A Prince George’s County state senator is calling on his colleagues to condemn Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller for not voting to remove a statue of late Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the State House grounds.

Sen. C. Anthony Muse said Wednesday that he has drafted a resolution that he plans to introduce when the General Assembly convenes in January. Muse, a Democrat who is also running for Prince George’s County executive, said it was inappropriate for Miller to defend the Taney statue.

“It’s disrespectful to all of the progress we have made as a nation on race relations to defend such a person in any way,” Muse said.

Muse said his resolution seeks a censure of Miller.

Censure is a rarely-used tool of discipline for lawmakers, which usually comes following an investigation of possible ethical wrongdoing.

The last lawmaker to be censured was then-Sen. Ulysses Currie in 2012, who failed to disclose that he was being paid to represent a grocery chain before state agencies. Earlier this year, lawmakers gave a reprimand — a less severe punishment — to Del. Dan K. Morhaim, because he advocated for policies that benefit medical marijuana companies without fully disclosing that he was a paid consultant for one.

Through a spokesman, Miller declined to comment.

In a letter last week, Miller explained that Taney has a complex history beyond the infamous Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and declared that black Americans could not be citizens.

Miller said the State House Trust’s vote to remove the Taney statue should have been held in public, rather than via email.

Miller did not participate in the vote, but the other three members — Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who represents Gov. Larry Hogan; House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch; and Charles L. Edson, who represents the Maryland Historical Trust — voted to remove the statue. The statue has since been taken down and put into storage.

Muse said he wants to emphasize that he and others disagree with the Senate president.

“All my resolution is doing is making clear that I do not believe, on this issue, that he speaks for the entire Senate,” Muse said.

pwood@baltsun.com

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