(UPDATED) Maine Supreme Judicial Court Rules Against Governor LePage, Upholds 71 Laws

Posted on August 6, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

(Breaking story; will be updated as needed. ~AP)

As anticipated, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court wasted no time in coming back with a speedy response to last week’s hour long hearing, issuing the following opinion today: a 6-0 smack-down of Governor LePage (PDF).

Reactions:

    Governor LePage's legal council Cynthia Montgomery delivers her argument to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 7/31/15.

    Governor LePage’s legal council Cynthia Montgomery delivers her argument to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 7/31/15.

    Governor Paul LePage: “This was not about winning or losing; it was about doing things right. We are fortunate to be able to seek legal opinions from the Judicial Branch, and we’re thankful the Justices came to a fast and fair resolution to this issue. We look forward to moving on and continuing to work for the Maine people.”

    Attorney General Janet T. Mills: “The Office of the Attorney General is pleased with the full and complete responses to the Governor’s questions elucidated in the unanimous 47 page opinion today. The Opinion of the Justices is on all fours with all the research conducted by our Office and with the Opinion of the Attorney General of July 10, 2015. We are also pleased that the Court ruled expeditiously so as to avoid any further unnecessary debate and confusion. The answers to the Governor’s questions are clear, unambiguous and completely consistent with his own past practice and with that of every other Governor in recent memory. Except when the Legislature has adjourned sine die, the Chief Executive has ten days (excluding Sundays) within which to return any bills with his objections. By his failure to do so, he has forfeited the right to veto any of the bills at issue.”

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N. Berwick): “The court has rightly rejected Gov. Paul LePage’s legal gymnastics. The decision affirms these bills are law. The governor must enforce them. The ruling also reaffirms the Constitution, historical precedent, and honors the separation of powers in our Democracy that protects against partisanship and abuse of power. The decision is a victory a huge win for Maine women, families, seniors, and veterans, who will see great benefits from the laws we passed.”

    House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan): “This ruling is a victory for the Maine people and the Maine constitution. It affirms both the good bipartisan work of the Legislature and the separation of powers. I call on Governor LePage to abide by the Court’s opinion, fulfill his constitutional duties and enforce all 71 laws that were duly passed by the Legislature.”

    Asst House Majority Leader Sara Gideon (D-Freeport): “The Supreme Court has confirmed what we’ve long known – the Legislature has the sole power to decide when it is adjourned. Today’s ruling ensures Maine will make progress on key issues like women’s health, veterans’ services, domestic violence, drug overdose deaths, affordable housing for seniors and many more. I look forward to the executive branch implementing these laws and doing the work the people hired them to do.”

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(UPDATE)

Statement of Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo):

    “Today, Maine’s highest court confirmed that the Governor’s inaction on these 65 bills resulted in them becoming law. While I am disappointed that some of these measures are now law, I am pleased that we have a court opinion which reaffirms the longstanding, 195-year old practice of dealing with vetoes that is outlined in the Constitution.

    We should now move past this dispute and use this as an opportunity to change the tone in Augusta. The executive and legislative branches must work together. I encourage the Administration to reset their relationship with the Legislature to foster an environment of engagement and collaboration. Effective leadership requires instilling confidence both in our colleagues in Augusta and constituents back home. When that confidence is shaken we should not be surprised when we are unable to accomplish our goals. By working together we can all accomplish great things for the people of Maine.”

Front page of Maine Republican site “As Maine Goes”, 8/6/15.

Reaction from former U.S. Senator Collins staffer Lance Dutson, now co-founder of Get Right Maine:

    “Today’s court opinion reaffirmed what virtually every observer knew from the very beginning – that the Governor’s interpretation of the Constitution was incorrect. As he has stated, the Governor’s aim with these vetoes was to waste the Legislature’s time.

    Going forward, as Republicans, we need to refocus on effectively governing the State of Maine. As Republicans, we are proud to stand by the principles of honesty, integrity, and good government. We hope that this ruling will result in a different pattern of conduct from this Administration, one that more closely resembles the tradition of Maine Republican statesmanship that so many of our elected officials have exemplified. The time for political games, inflammatory rhetoric, and irresponsible governing is over.”

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*RELATED: Maine Supreme Judicial Court Hears Oral Arguments On 65 LePage Disputed “Vetoes”

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Maine Supreme Judicial Court Hears Oral Arguments On 65 LePage Disputed “Vetoes”

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

AUDIO LINK HERE.

A full Court Room #12 awaiting oral arguments

A full Court Room #12 awaiting oral arguments

On July 17, Governor Paul LePage submitted the following questions to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Maine Constitution:

  • What form of adjournment prevents the return of a bill to the Legislature as contemplated by the use of the word, adjournment, in Art. IV, pt. 3, §2 of the Maine Constitution?
  • Did any of the action or inaction by the Legislature trigger the
    constitutional three-day procedure for the exercise of the Governor’s veto?
  • Are the 65 bills I returned to the Legislature on July 16 properly before that body for reconsideration?

The Court announced that they would hear the arguments within 2 weeks of the governor’s request. They also posted all documents submitted.

 

Documents:

From a media advisory:

STATE OF MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT Docket No. OJ-15-2 In the Matter of Request for Opinion of the Justices
ORAL ARGUMENT PROCESS

Governor LePage's legal council Cynthia Montgomery delivers her argument to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 7/31/15.

Governor LePage’s legal council Cynthia Montgomery delivers her argument to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 7/31/15.

The Justices will hold Oral Argument on the Governor’s Request for an Opinion of the Justices at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, July 31, 2015, in Courtroom 12 of the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland.

The argument will proceed as follows:

    1. Counsel for the Governor (Cynthia Montgomery) will be allotted fifteen minutes for argument. Up to three uninterrupted minutes may be reserved; up to two minutes may be reserved for rebuttal.

    2. Counsel for Representatives Kenneth W. Fredette, Eleanor M. Espling, and Jeffrey L. Timberlake (Clinton Boothby) will then be allotted up to five minutes for argument. No uninterrupted or rebuttal time is allotted.

    3. Counsel for the President of the Maine Senate and the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives (Timothy Woodcock) will then be allotted up to fifteen minutes for argument. Up to three uninterrupted minutes may be reserved, but no rebuttal time is allotted.

    4. Counsel for the Attorney General (Rosemary Gardiner) will then be allotted up to five minutes for argument. No uninterrupted or rebuttal time is allotted.

    5. Counsel for the Governor will then argue in rebuttal if time has been reserved.

Here is the full press pool video.

Photos from within the courtroom here.

Afterwards, Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner), Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) and former Secretary of State Senator Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland) met with press to discuss the just concluded Maine Supreme Judicial Court oral arguments heard regarding the 65 vetoes disputed by Maine Governor Paul LePage.

Democratic House leadership released statements.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick): “We thank the court for an incredibly fair, thorough and respectful hearing that reflects the seriousness of the issue. We are confident in our position that the laws in question must be enforced by the governor. We have faith the court will make the correct ruling on behalf of the people of Maine.”

House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan): “It is unfortunate that the governor chose to waste our tax dollars on lawyers and trials instead of admitting he made a mistake. I am confident that the justices will uphold over 100 years of legal precedent and that the 71 new laws that passed with bipartisan cooperation will stand.”

No word as to when there will be a response from the justices, but it could be fairly quickly.

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*RELATED: (UPDATED) The Curious Tale Of Governor LePage And The 19- Scratch That- 70 “Pocket Vetoes” LAWS

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Maine Sovereign Citizens Merletti, McCarthy Resurface as Part of “LePage Vs Mills” Judicial Case

Posted on February 26, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Wayne Leach, an unnamed supporter and Phil Merletti in the Hall of Flags, 1/8/15.

Wayne Leach, an unnamed supporter and Phil Merletti in the Hall of Flags, 1/8/15.

On the day that Governor Paul LePage swore Maine’s three constitutional officers into office (albeit breaking from modern day tradition with two behind closed doors in his cabinet room and the third publicly in the Hall of Flags), there were a few other people of note outside the governor’s office and trying to get a few moments with LePage- to wit, his chums Phil Merletti and Wayne Leach.

You remember… the ones, along with Aroostook Watchman Jack McCarthy that Mike Tipping made famous last year? Here’s a timeline to refresh your memory.

IMG_2872Anyhoo… seems that a little birdie told these fellas that they would be well served to submit an amicus brief to the Maine Supreme Court, as part of Governor LePage’s going to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to squeal on the oh so very mean Attorney General Janet Mills, who won’t let Paul play with all the toys.

He hasn’t been so mad since the Legislative Council made him move his TV from behind the stairs!

But back to Merletti and McCarthy, because there is more than a dash of irony in them filing the papers in the first place. As was questioned by Portland Press Herald’s Greg Kasich: “Do they recognize the supreme court?”

It is a wonder, to be sure. But see for yourselves!

Here are the entire proceedings, as shared on the State of Maine Judicial Branch “Governor’s Request for Opinion of the Justices” page of the case. Click on “Brief of Lise McLain and Dorothy Lafortune”, to find where Merletti and McCarthy pop up.

Now this is where the legal clown car gets a tad crowded- the above “Motion for leave to participate in the oral argument“. Merletti and McCarthy asserted today in court that their vast experience as researchers is required by the Court, for the Court to fully understand the case. Needless to say, this motion was summarily denied by the Court.

Indeed, Justice is blind.

(To be updated)

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