Tag Archive | Roger Taney

Judging Taney: A Response to Josh Blackman

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

As Josh Blackman has covered at his blog, a Baltimore City commission has recommended removing the statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney from the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

This event calls to mind an exchange I had with a then-professor at Goucher College in 1994. When he expressed sarcastic pride that a Marylander, Taney, wrote the Dred Scott decision,[1] I asked, “Wasn’t Taney otherwise considered a great justice?” He shot back: “How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” Point taken.

I favor removing the statue, but we should ask serious questions before cutting symbolic ties with Taney. Read More…

The Elite Federal Bar in Baltimore, 1818 to 1834

by Steven M. Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

[On the anniversary (plus one day) of William Wirt’s argument before the Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland, I am reprinting below an article that has previously appeared in The Federal Lawyer and Maryland Litigator. I would like to dedicate this re-print to my late cousin, Kevin Rooney, who passed away last June. When this article appeared in The Federal Lawyer in 2011, Kevin—who attended seminary in Baltimore before deciding to become a lawyer—emailed me regarding our Wirt connection. When Kevin served as Assistant Attorney General for Administration, he chose Wirt’s portrait to hang in his office at the U.S. Department of Justice. Kevin, however, found the happy balance between career and family that eluded Wirt.]

[The article is Copyrighted 2011,  Steven M. Klepper.]

As the federal bar took shape in the early decades of the nineteenth century, Baltimore, Maryland, was home to a disproportionate share of that bar’s elite members. G. Edward White, in his volume of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court, observed that the “period from 1815 to 1835 was one of the highwater marks in the history of the Supreme Court bar.”[1] Of the six pre-eminent attorneys whom Professor White profiled, three—Luther Martin, William Pinkney, and William Wirt—centered their trial practices in Baltimore. After the deaths of Martin and Pinkney in the early 1820s, future Chief Justice Roger Taney, himself an accomplished advocate before the Marshall Court, moved his practice to Baltimore. In a time when United States Attorney General was a part-time job, Pinkney, Wirt, and Taney all served in that role while maintaining private practices in Baltimore. Read More…