Roger Brooke Taney
Oil on canvas portrait painting of Roger Brooke Taney (1777-1864), c. 1880, by Oscar Hallwig (1858-1880). Roger B. Taney was born in Calvert County, Maryland. He became a lawyer and served in several political appointments in his early career, including Attorney General of Maryland (1827-1831), Secretary of War (Acting) (1831), U.S. Attorney General (1831-1833), U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1833-1834). In 1834, he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Andrew Jackson. As Chief Justice, the Taney court marked a judicial shift toward states' rights and enslavement rulings. Taney is most remembered for his majority opinion in the infamous 1857 ruling "Dred Scott v. Sanford", which denied Scott the right to sue in federal court for his freedom under the premise that his ancestors were enslaved and therefore he was not an American citizen. Taney instead asserted Scott was property. He also declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.