Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?
A “yes” vote on Question 6 would restore certain original sections of the Maine Constitution to printed copies. Although these sections have always been part of the Maine Constitution as originally adopted in 1820, an amendment in 1876 prevented those sections from being printed in copies of the Constitution. Part of the redacted material pertained to Maine’s treaty obligations to Wabanaki people.
Why are we voting on this?
In 1820 when Maine separated from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and became a state, its new Constitution included Article X, Section 5 that said, in part:
The new State shall, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made for that purpose, assume and perform all the duties and obligations of this Commonwealth, towards the Indians within said District of Maine, whether the same arise from treaties, or otherwise . . .
This is the only section of Maine’s Constitution that mentions the “duties and obligations” Maine inherited as regards the Wabanaki people within its borders. In 1876, the Constitution was amended to remove that language from printed copies. Maine’s current Constitution reads, in part:
Sections 1, 2 and 5, of Article X of the Constitution, shall hereafter be omitted in any printed copies thereof prefixed to the laws of the State; but this shall not impair the validity of acts under those sections; and said section 5 shall remain in full force, as part of the Constitution, according to the stipulations of said section, with the same effect as if contained in said printed copies.
A “yes” vote on Question 6 would cancel the 1876 amendment and restore the language of original Sections 1, 2, and 5 of Article X to printed copies of the Constitution.
What is the history behind Question 6?
For Maine to become a state, Massachusetts first had to pass legislation called the Articles of Separation. That legislation divided and allocated public property and certain obligations as between Maine and Massachusetts once they became separate states. As part of that division, Maine assumed all the “duties and obligations” Massachusetts had as regards the “Indians within said District of Maine.”
The Articles also required that its terms and conditions “be incorporated into, and become and be a part of any Constitution, provisional or other, under which the Government of the said proposed State, shall, at any time hereafter, be administered; subject however, to be modified, or annulled by the agreement of the Legislature of both the said States; but by no other power or body whatsoever." The Articles of Separation were included in the Maine Constitution as Section 5 of Article X. This was one of the Sections redacted from printed copies in 1876.
Sections 1 and 2 of Article X were also redacted in 1876. They covered when the first Maine legislature would meet, when initial elections would be held, how Senate and House seats would be allocated as between the counties and towns, and what the initial terms of Maine’s elected and appointed officers would be. These Sections would also be restored to printed copies of the Constitution if Question 6 passes.
What would be the legal effect of a “yes” vote on Question 6?
The only legal effect would be that printed copies of the Maine Constitution would henceforth contain the language redacted in 1876, including the full Articles of Separation. Passage of Question 6 would not change the “duties and obligations” Maine has always had as regards the Wabanaki Nations. Those “duties and obligations”, despite the redaction, remained “in full force, as part of the Constitution . . . as if contained in said printed copies.” Although there would be no substantive legal changes, passage of Question 6 would give citizens of Maine easy access to the original language in our Constitution.
How will Question 6 appear on your ballot?
QUESTION 6: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Require All Provisions in the Constitution to Be Included in the Official Printing. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?