Citing recent "horrific deaths" of black people, Maine's Supreme Court announced Wednesday it's undertaking an effort to ensure racism and discrimination haven't crept into the state's legal system.
The six justices will include the "wider public" while listening and gathering information in a "continuing and redoubled effort" to fight racial inequities, they said in a statement.
"The courts have a direct and fundamental responsibility to dispense justice without any hint or even appearance of racism or other bias in all of their insidious forms," they wrote. "Freedom from disparate treatment based upon race is not only a constitutional right — it is a basic human right."
The statement comes amid national furor and protests over law enforcement treatment of black people following George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a white police officer placed his knee on Floyd's neck despite his pleas that he couldn't breathe.
"The horrific deaths of African Americans in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Atlanta in recent weeks have driven home a stark and heartbreaking reminder to all Americans that racism continues to be a pervasive blight upon our constitutional republic and the world at large," the court wrote.
The court said its mission is to administer an impartial system "that serves the public interest, protects individual rights and instills respect for the law."
"Bearing in mind that we must learn in order to lead, we have begun to reach out to people and resources that can help us better understand, identify and address racism in all its forms and its insidious effects upon attitudes and behavior," the court said.
The justices said there would be additional training for judicial officers and court staff, and added that the court will work toward integrating additional measures "to prevent racism and other forms of discrimination from affecting the justice process."