Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that he supports the removal of the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the Maryland State House in Annapolis.
"As I said at my inauguration, Maryland has always been a state of middle temperament, which is a guiding principle of our administration," Hogan said in a statement. "While we cannot hide from our history – nor should we – the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history. With that in mind, I believe removing the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds is the right thing to do, and we will ask the State House Trust to take that action immediately."
Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who delivered the majority opinion in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford case, which denied African Americans citizenship and upheld slavery.
Hogan previously did not support removing the statue of Taney, and his reversal on the matter drew criticism of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous.
"Before today, Larry Hogan's position was that removing the Roger Taney statue would be 'political correctness run amok'," Jealous said in a statement Tuesday. "The only difference between now and then is Governor Hogan is running for re-election. Real leadership doesn't tie our values to the political calendar. As Governor, Larry Hogan has the responsibility to show our children that doing what's right should always matter more than political convenience."
On Monday Jealous announced he would work to remove all confederate monuments in Maryland as governor. He also said he would replace the Taney statue with one of Frederick Douglass.
Hogan's statement comes after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed after a car was driven into a group of counter protesters.
On Sunday, the group Our Maryland created an online petition asking Hogan to support the removal of the stature. The petition had more than 500 signatures by Monday, according to the Washington Post.
Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch said Monday that he believes it is time to take down the statue.
"It certainly doesn't belong there," Busch said. ""It's the appropriate time to remove it."
Busch is a member of the Maryland State House Trust, a four-member board chaired by Hogan that oversees the property of the State House.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, another member of the board, said Monday he would prefer if the statue remains in place, citing the values of education and history.
"While there is a flawed history surrounding Justice Roger Taney, he was not a Confederate figure," Miller said in a statement. "As a student of history, I personally believe there is greater value in educating and providing context to Justice Taney and the inflammatory language of the Dred Scott decision rather than removing his statue from the State House grounds."
However, Miller also said he would respect Hogan's decision to remove the statue. "At the same time, however, the Governor is the leader of our State, and the Chair of the State House Trust. Should he support removal, I will not stand in the way of his decision."
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Monday she would take down Confederate statues and monuments in Baltimore, and possibly move them to Confederate cemeteries.
Other city officials across the county are also calling for removing statues that are symbols of the confederacy, including Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida, and Lexington, Kentucky.