The Maine House and Senate each rejected 65 vetoes sent to them from Republican Governor Paul LePage on Thursday, forcing a probable showdown in the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. House Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, and Senate President Michael Thibodeau, a Republican, both refused to consider the vetoes, because LePage held the bills for over ten days without acting on them. LePage initially was attempting to “pocket veto” much of the legislation, but the law only allows pocket vetoes when the legislature adjourns.
However, LePage was unwilling to admit his procedural error and instead double downed insisting that lawmakers should bend to his imperial dictates rather than follow Maine law. Now LePage will have to hope the courts agree with his twisted interpretation of the governor’s powers, because the legislature clearly does not.
House Speaker Mark Eves declared the governor’s behavior as out of order, and flatly rejected the vetoes, stating:
You cannot veto a law. This legislation is already law, in accordance with the Constitution, history and precedent. The governor’s veto attempts are out of order and in error. He missed the deadline to veto the bills.
If the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sides with the legislature, LePage’s strategy will backfire as one of the most cataclysmic blunders in government history. 65 pieces of legislation that LePage opposes may have become law, because the Tea Party governor can’t abide by the correct process for vetoing legislation he is against.
LePage has proven time and again that he is either too arrogant or too foolish to serve as governor of his state. He has repeatedly attempted to bully lawmakers, but on July 16th they may have exacted their payback. Dozens of bills that LePage opposed are now law, unless Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court decides to side with the governor by choosing to overturn those laws. Unless the court is unusually partisan, there is no reason to expect that they will rule in the governor’s favor.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.