Maine county returns statue of Supreme Court chief justice

April 21, 2021 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The statute of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller will be returned to its donor for the price of $1 and removed from the front of a Maine county courthouse within a year.

Kennebec County commissioners agreed to a proposal on Tuesday by donor Robert Fuller Jr. to take back the statue of the Augusta native, which was gifted to Kennebec County eight years ago on the 125th anniversary of Melville Fuller’s appointment to the Supreme Court, the Kennebec Journal reported.

“Mr. Fuller, as I have said and all the commissioners have said, we appreciate your generosity to the community and we thank you for taking this back,” said Commissioner Patsy Crockett, chair of the commissioners.

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Last summer, the Maine Judicial Branch suggested county officials remove the statue because it was not consistent with its values.

Melville Fuller presided over the court for the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which established the “separate but equal,” doctrine that paved the way for decades of racial segregation.

In the decision, Fuller sided with the majority upholding a Louisiana law requiring the racial segregation of railroad passengers and establishing that the “separate but equal” doctrine was constitutional

President Grover Cleveland appointed Melville Fuller to the Supreme Court in 1888, and he served 22 years until his death in 1910.