Most know that Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the auspices of “separate but equal.” This of course promulgated Jim Crow legislation throughout the South.
Chief Justice Melville Fuller, a native of Maine, presided over Plessy v. Ferguson, voting with the majority. Justice Fuller’s complicated judicial tenure also included Lochner v. New York, in which a Court majority determined that states could not enforce wage and hour restrictions on businesses.
A descendant of Melville Fuller donated a statue of the controversial Justice in front of the Kennebec County Courthouse.
To our Board of Directors, the long-term effects of Plessy and Justice Fuller’s nativist bent should disqualify him from a position of veneration in front of a house of justice. We take no position on the disposition of the statue, as Justice Fuller role is clearly one of historical value to his descendants and the state of Maine, just that it has no place in front of a government institution where equality before the law is of utmost importance.
Our Board voted unanimously to send letters to Kennebec County Commissioners, urging them to relocate (not destroy) the statue.