AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine county board voted to move the statue of Melville Fuller, who was an Augusta native and served as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court when it decided Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that legalized racial segregation in 1896.
The Kennebec County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to move the statue, which sits in front of the county court house in Maine's capital, the Kennebec Journal reported.
The statue, which was installed in 2013, was a gift from a cousin of Fuller's, the newspaper reported.
Fuller was the chief justice of the nation's highest court when it decided the Plessy v. Ferguson case. That decision established the “separate but equal” doctrine that permitted racial segregation and allowed the passage of Jim Crow laws. It was overturned in 1954 by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that struck down racial segregation in public schools.
Commissioners will appoint a committee to decide where to move the statue. In August, the Maine judicial branch sent a letter to the commissioners asking them to consider moving the statue, saying that its prominent location reflected on the judiciary.
"It suggests that the Maine Judicial Branch is holding out the career of Chief Justice Fuller, including Plessy, as a symbol of what the Maine justice system stands for,” Andrew Mead, acting chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, wrote.
The county commissioners also heard testimony about the statue, whether to move it and what to do with it, in December.