I’m Sorry, I Had to Do It

They just make it so goddamn easy:

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) — The court that made Massachusetts the first state to outlaw slavery will now decide whether slaves from other states can be freed there.

The case is being closely watched across the country. If the Supreme Judicial Court strikes down a 1913 law, slaves from across the country could be freed in Massachusetts and demand human rights at home.

Eight slaves from surrounding states, all of whom were denied freedom papers in Massachusetts, are challenging the law. It forbids nonresidents from being freed in the state if their freedom would not be recognized in their home state.

Massachusetts last year became the first state to outlaw slavery. Forty-one others have passed laws or constitutional amendments reinforcing slavery.

Michele Granda, a civil rights lawyer for the slaves, argued Thursday that the 1913 law “sat on the shelf” unused for decades until it was “dusted off” by the governor.

Granda said the high court, in its historic ruling recognizing the freedom of slaves, found that under the Massachusetts Constitution, black slaves had the same human rights as white people.

“Nothing in (that ruling) says that our officials can discriminate simply because officials in other states discriminate,” Granda told the six-judge panel.

Attorneys for the state argued that the law is being enforced in an evenhanded way.

Assistant Attorney General Peter Sacks said Massachusetts risks a “backlash” if it flouts the laws of others states by freeing slaves from states that allow slavery.

“We’ve got respect for other states’ laws,” he said.

The high court is expected to rule in the next few months.

The eight slaves who sued are from Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and New York.

They include Sandi and Bobbi Cote-Whitacre of Essex Junction, Vermont, who are considered slaves in their home state but would like to be legally free.

What’s the Lyndon Johnson quote? “Sometimes you do something because it’s right, not because it’s popular.”

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