Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera - Statement on Equal Justice under Law

Posted on 06/11/2020 12:11 pm  /   Legislative Updates


The protests of the last several weeks have coalesced into a truth that cannot be ignored: people of color are being denied their rightful equality.  Frustration and grief have poured out in response to the recent events that so horribly have illuminated injustices against people of color; injustices, sadly, that are not new.  These events represent the extremes of the all-too-common conscious—and unconscious—disrespect and disregard for the dignity of people of color.  Difficult and painful, but necessary and overdue, conversations are taking place across our state and our nation.

We may be disheartened, not only that our collective efforts have been insufficient and inadequate, but that so little progress appears to have been made.  We cannot falter, as we must fulfill our mandate to ensure equal justice to all under law.  We must, individually and collectively, contribute in any way we can to overcome the bias that divides and imperils our civil society and the experiment that is our democracy. 

This recognition of the need for collective resolve is not new, but perhaps our determination to address the long-term inequities spawned by slavery and Jim Crow, has, at last, become new.  In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, in his annual message to Congress, noted:

We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion.  As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Many of those among us have taken an oath to support the constitutions of the United States and Maryland.  As such, we have the particular responsibility to make the guarantees embodied in them a reality for all people.  We have the unique privilege and responsibility to administer justice:  equal justice under law. Complete-Statement.