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Maine Constitution Prohibits Printing of Maine Constitution

by Ken Arnold on Thu 4 June 2015

Parts of it anyway. Including, it just so happens, the parts that cover its obligations to Native American tribes and their treaties.

In 1875, Maine amended it’s constitution, adding Article X, Section 7, which prohibited printing Article X, Sections 1, 2, and 5. They would still be in effect, don’t worry, but we no longer will tell you about them. You know: Secret laws, why not?

So… Anyway, I updated the Wikipedia page on the Maine Constitution, which didn’t have Article X coverage at all. Now it does, and some coverage of this strangeness, including a link to a Google Books scan of those suppressed clauses. (h/t to Kee Hinckley for pointing this whole thing out.)

It just so happens that Section 5 obligates Maine to honor treaties with tribes and other obligations. Which, of course, has mostly not happened, because it happened essentially nowhere. But surely the legal battle against such neglect has been harmed by hiding constitutional clauses prohibiting neglect. Much easier, it seems, to prohibit printing prohibitions against neglect, and then forgetting them.

It is an oddity. (Is it unique?) It’s right there in the printed constitution: Section 7 suppresses printing Sections 1, 2, and 5. But it was thought to be bookkeeping about old junk. And since it’s hard to find copies old enough to be uncensored, most folks wouldn’t know what specifically was missing.

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