I have spent my entire professional career as an historian of the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras. I taught at Colby College for almost 30 years.

As many will already know, in the 19th century, many states (including Maine) passed laws of resistance against vicious and immoral federal mandates (supported by the Supreme Courts of the day) to capture and return enslaved people to their “owners.”

It seems to me that the time has come for state legislatures, including ours here in Maine, to do what 19th-century legislators had the courage to do: convene emergency sessions so they can immediately craft, pass, and enact laws that reaffirm unequivocally the principle that no person — explicitly including elected persons at any level and chief executives like governors and presidents even when they are in office  — is above the law, and all must be held accountable.

The American people and our elected representatives are not without options in the face of this travesty, one of so many the current revolutionary Supreme Court has inflicted on us. To protect what remains of our democracy, and to defend the Constitution’s carefully crafted separation of powers and other precious foundational principles, as well as the general welfare of the people, we must urge our leaders to act expeditiously to act now.

Elizabeth D. Leonard

Gibson Professor of History, Emerita

Colby College

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