The New International Encyclopædia/Taney, Roger Brooke

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

TANEY, ta̤'nĭ, Roger Brooke (1777-1864). An eminent American jurist, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He was born in Calvert County, Md.; graduated at Dickinson College, Pa.; studied law at Annapolis; and in 1799 was admitted to the bar. In 1823 he removed to Baltimore, where he succeeded William Pinkney and Luther Martin as head of the Maryland bar. In 1827 he was elected Attorney-General of the State, and, having become a Democrat and a sup- porter of Andrew Jackson, was appointed Attorney-General of the United States in 1831. In this capacity he became one of Jackson's most trusted counselors, encouraged him to remove the United States Bank deposits, and upon the refusal of William J. Duane, then Secretary of the Treasury, to obey Jackson's orders to this effect, was appointed in Duane's stead, though his appointment was never confirmed by the Senate. Taney promptly removed the deposits and thus further won the confidence of his chief. In 1836 he succeeded John Marshall as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In this capacity he sustained in the main the high reputation of his distinguished predecessor for legal learning and acumen, though as a result of the passions engendered by the approaching civil strife some of his opinions were severely criticised. He wrote the opinion of the court in many important cases, the most notable being that of Dred Scott. (See Dred Scott Case.) During the Civil War Chief Justice Taney gave opinion in the noted case of Ex-parte Merryman in answer to an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a citizen of Baltimore who had been arrested by a United States officer on a charge of treason, denying in strong and vigorous language the right of the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and affirming that that power was vested in Congress alone. A memoir of Taney's life, in part an autobiography, was published in 1872 by Samuel Tyler.