Tag: Constitution

Sep 12

The Aftermath of a Pardon

Department of Justice prosecutors in the contempt case against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio have asked the judge to vacate her decision arguing that Donald Trump’s pardon has nullified the verdict. No doubt this came at the request of Trump and his Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. Trump tried to justify his action falsely comparing …

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Feb 22

How To Remove A Problem Like Trump

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, the was some confusion on succession. The Constitution was not clear on whether the vice president would be president or acting president in the event of the death, resignation, removal or incapacity due to disability. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 …

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Feb 07

The Resistance: Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover

We are barely three weeks into the so-called presidency of Donald J. Trump and there is already talks of impeachment. Of course House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to down play the chatter, once again shirking her constitutional responsibility. “[There] are grounds for displeasure and unease in the public about the performance of this …

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Jan 31

The Resistance: Monday Night Massacre

Monday night, three hours after acting Attorney General Sally Yates issued a letter instructing US Attorneys not to defend Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, Trump fired her. The last time that happened was in 1973, when Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox at the height of the Watergate scandal. It precipitated the resignation of Attorney …

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Dec 13

Has The Extortion Already Begun?

Has possible extortion of Donald Trump by foreign governments already begun? No, not the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC e-mails and speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin is manipulating Trump with undisclosed hacked information, although that is pretty bad. This is about Turkey, China and the Philippines where Trump has extensive business interests. Last …

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Nov 14

Should It Ever Have Been A Matter Of Trust?

A question for those who trusted Barack Obama with national security, mass surveillance, drones and targeted assassination: Do you trust Donald Trump and his minions with those tools? If you don’t, it’s a bit too late for panicking There were those of us on the far left with a greater respect for the law and …

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Oct 20

Late Night Hosts React to the Last Debate

The last presidential debate ended last night with the candidates walking off the stage without even making eye contact, let alone a handshake. The take today is that Donald blew and, no matter how his campaign and supporters spin it, his refusal to say he would accept the election results was the final strike in …

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Jun 22

Protecting The 2nd Amendment At Any Price

On Monday the Senate voted on four bills on gun control. Needless to say, the wholly owned Senate defeated even the most reasonable measure that would have closed the loop hole in back ground checks at gun shows and on line. Instead Congress panders to the right wing gun lovers and idiots who think that …

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Feb 24

No Meetings, No Hearings, No Vote. May Not Be A Bad Strategy For The Left

The Senate Republicans appear to be once again on the road to self destruction. GOPers Commit to the ‘Three Nos’, Josh Marshal, Talking Points Memo There’s nothing really different today than what Mitch McConnell committed Republicans to only hours after Justice Scalia’s death. But we now have a formal embrace of the ‘Three Nos’: No …

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Feb 15

The Thurmond Rule Or The Constitution

No sooner had the news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death been announced when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) let it be known that the Senate would not even consider hearings on his successor. In a swift statement designed to warn Barack Obama against even nominating a replacement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledged …

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Aug 07

Mainly Maine: Too Clever By Half

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The cocksure Tea Party governor of Maine, Paul Lepage, decided he would play games with what he thought were his veto powers under Maine’s constitution by using a pocket veto of 65 bills.

On Thursday, LePage delivered vetoes of 65 of those bills (the rest he returned unsigned) and urged the Legislature to consider his vetoes. Both House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, and Senate President Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said they would not let the vetoes hit the floors of their respective chambers.

LePage argued that because lawmakers left Augusta on June 30, he had been prevented from returning the vetoes before the 10 days had expired. The Maine Constitution states that if a Legislature adjourns, the governor may hold bills until three days after they return.

The House and Senate passed a temporary adjournment order on June 30 to give LePage time to act on the bills. Top lawmakers and Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat elected by the Legislature, said that temporary recess was not adjournment, and thus did not give LePage more time to act.

Gov. LePage’s problem was that he was using his interpretation of the constitution, not what it really said. So off to the Maine Supreme Court he went. Briefs from both sides were submitted and oral arguments were heard last Friday

Today that court disagreed with the governor and those 65 bills are now law:

Gov. Paul LePage erred in his end-of-session veto gambit, and in so doing lost the ability to veto 65 bills that he opposed.

In an advisory opinion released by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (pdf), the justices said that the bills in question became law without the governor’s signature, and that the Legislature should not be required to consider his attempted vetoes. [..]

In making its decision, the court relied in part on decades of precedent in which Maine governors had returned vetoes to the Legislature while it was in recess.

“History demonstrates that Maine governors, for nearly forty years, have routinely returned bills with their vetoes during temporary absences of the Legislature that came at the end of the session – after an “adjournment” but before the Legislature adjourned sine die,” the court wrote.

“These examples demonstrate that temporary adjournments of the Legislature near the end of a legislative session-whether until a date certain or until the call of the leadership, and whether beyond a ten-day period-have not prevented governors from returning bills with their objections to their Houses of origin within the constitutionally-required ten-day timeframe.”

LePage on Thursday thanked the court for its ruling.

Indeed, too clever by half.

Aug 05

Mainly Maine

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

When you think of the state of Maine, you usually think of woods, camping, vacations, rocky beaches, sailing and, maybe, the Bush crime family or where Tom Clancy hid a stolen Russian submarine in his novel, “Hunt for the Red October.” You don’t think of it as one of the crazy states like Kansas, Texas or Oklahoma but since Republican Governor Paul LePage was reelected in November, Maine is now up there at the top of the crazy list.

The Tea Party Republican governor has been in a veto war with the state’s two house legislature over taxes, spending, health care, the state budget just to name a few. The Republicans, who are mostly moderates, hold the majority in the Senate and the House majority is Democratic. They work fairly well together and have been successful in overriding the governor’s vetoes that would have crippled the state. The dispute came to a head in July when the Gov. LePage tried to use a the parliamentary procedure known as the pocket veto on 19 bills. But the clerk of the Maine House says that the vetoes were not valid under the state’s constitution. Talking Points Memo has been following this wish relish

By not signing the bills and “pocketing” them, LePage could under some circumstances have effectively vetoed them. In theory, that would have allowed the proposals to die without legislators having a chance to override his veto. But the pocket veto only works if the legislature has adjourned after the end of the second regular session. And there is the rub.

The clerk of the Maine House told TPM Wednesday morning that the legislature, which is nearing the end of the first regular session, has not adjourned. By not vetoing the bills within the required 10-day period, LePage allowed the bills he opposed — some ferociously — to become law.

But LePage’s office is now claiming the legislature did adjourn. [..]

Here’s what Article IV, Section 2 of the Maine Constitution says on the subject:

   If the bill or resolution shall not be returned by the Governor within 10 days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to the Governor, it shall have the same force and effect as if the Governor had signed it unless the Legislature by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall have such force and effect, unless returned within 3 days after the next meeting of the same Legislature which enacted the bill or resolution; if there is no such next meeting of the Legislature which enacted the bill or resolution, the bill or resolution shall not be a law.

Both Hunt and Suzanne Gresser, the reviser of statutes, are acting as if the usual 10-day period for the governor to veto the bills has passed and are now on their way to becoming law.

Things went downhill from there. The governor then threw a temper tantrum, refused to concede to the bipartisan interpretation of the constitution and put a hold on another 51 bills

LePage’s office is saying that he will sit on another 51 bills passed by the state legislature. Those are in addition to the 19 bills he previously failed to act on. He plans to send them all back to the legislature with a veto when lawmakers return to Augusta July 16, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Democratic lawmakers and the clerk of the state House contend — and history and custom tend to support their view — that LePage missed the 10-day deadline he had to veto those 19 bills. Under Maine’s constitution, the bills automatically become law if the governor doesn’t act within that 10-day window.

LePage contends that the legislature adjourned June 30, which triggers another section of the state constitution that gives him additional time to act. But lawmakers claim they never took the kind of “adjournment” required by the constitution to allow LePage to wait to act on the bills, and they become law when he didn’t return them in the 10-day period.

Needless to say the Democrats and the Republicans refused to accept his vetoes, stating the governor had missed the 10 day deadline. Gov. LePage then took the disagreement to the Maine Supreme Court asking them to decide if he botched the vetoes. To add insult to injury, the Democratic House and Republican Senate leadership refused House Minority Leader Ken Fredette’s request to use public money to underwrite the associated legal costs.

The court fast-tracked the request, briefs were filed last Friday and oral arguments began today

The discussion revolved around thorny, complex issues of procedural mechanics and constitutional balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. Over the course of about 45 minutes, LePage’s counsel Cynthia Montgomery and the attorney representing Maine’s House and Senate each had 15 minutes each for their opposing arguments, with Montgomery given the opportunity for rebuttal at the end. Additionally, an attorney representing a few House Republicans as well as counsel for the attorney general each had a few minutes to make their cases, with the former favoring LePage’s view and the latter challenging it.

The justices were clearly seeking to streamline the arguments being presented in front of them, perhaps knowing both the short-term impact of their decision on dozens of pieces of legislation, as well as the long-term precedent they could set in navigating what has become a constitutional crisis. Their questions touched on both broad understanding of the executive branch’s veto powers and LePage’s specific motivations in waiting to submit his vetoes. They were mostly patient to weed through the convoluted specifics of the case, but at times were willing to call out what appeared to be suspicious reasoning.

To make matters worse for Gov. LePage, he being now sued for abuse of power. Steve Brennan, at MSNBC’s Maddowblog, reported this yesterday:

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is caught up in a doozy of a controversy. As regular readers know, a Maine charter school recently hired state House Speaker Mark Eves (D), but LePage, a fierce opponent of Democratic legislators, threatened the school – either fire Eves or the governor would cut off the school’s state funding. In effect, LePage played the role of a mobster saying, “It’s a nice school you have there; it’d be a shame if something happened to it.”

The school, left with no options, reluctantly acquiesced. The problem, of course, is that governors are not supposed to use state resources to punish people they don’t like. By most measures, it’s an impeachable offense.

As of today, as the Portland Press Herald [reported http://www.pressherald.com/201… it’s also the basis for a civil suit.

   Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves will file a civil lawsuit Thursday against Gov. Paul LePage, alleging that the governor used taxpayer money and the power of his office to prevent his hiring at a private school in Fairfield.

   The lawsuit, to be filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, has been anticipated ever since the board of directors at Good Will-Hinckley voted to rescind its offer to pay Eves $150,000 a year to become the organization’s next president. Eves said that the board told him before his contract was terminated that LePage threatened to eliminate $530,000 in annual state funding for the school unless it removed him from the job.

“Acting out of personal rage, vindictiveness and partisan malice, Gov. Paul LePage blackmailed a private school that serves at-risk children into firing its president, the Speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives,” the complaint reads.

The governor hasn’t denied the allegations and is now facing possible impeachment

Even Politico has called LePage “America’s Craziest Governor” and questioned if he is “playing with a full deck.”

Maine may be be this Summer’s best entertainment. Get the popcorn.

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