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“Paul ‘Rage LePage’, You Don’t Have To Impeach Me”: GOP Governor To Voters; ‘Just Ask Me To Leave’

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), among his many other legislative problems, is facing the possibility of impeachment as part of an abuse-of-power scandal. In an unexpected twist, the Tea Party governor has said impeachment may be unnecessary – because he’s willing to resign from office.

If you missed last night’s show, the Bangor Daily News reported this week on a LePage interview from July 30, in which he suggested he’ll step down if Mainers personally ask him to.

When LePage was asked if he’s worried about an impeachment proceeding, he responded:

“If the people of Maine want me, I’ll do the job. If they don’t want me, just ask me to leave. You don’t have to impeach me…. So far, I’ve only got four people write me that wanted me to resign.”

We know of a retired librarian in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, who wrote to his governor, asking LePage to step down. The note was not well received – LePage wrote back personally, saying, “Not going to happen.”

But might it happen? In that radio interview, the governor made it sound as if resignation is on the table – if enough Mainers write to the governor’s office, asking him to step down, he’d actually consider it.

Hmm.

As Rachel added, “For the record, the governor has never really explained whether he was serious about his offer to resign if he got enough letters asking him to. He also hasn’t said how many people, exactly, would have to ask him resign in order for him to actually do it. He also hasn’t said how many Mainers so far have taken him up on his offer now that he said that’s what it will take.

“We did ask his office about those things today. When we hear back, we will let you know but I suggest you don’t wait up.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 21, 2015

August 24, 2015 Posted by | Maine, Paul LePage, Tea Party | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Maine Court Smacks Down GOP Governor”: Caught Abusing His Power, Gov. Paul LePage Is In A World Of Trouble

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is in a world of trouble, which may even lead to his impeachment, after the far-right governor was caught abusing his power to punish the Democratic state House Speaker. An official investigation and civil suit are already underway.

And then there’s his other problem, which in policy terms, is just as serious. The Portland Press Herald reported this afternoon:

Maine’s top court has ruled unanimously against Gov. Paul LePage in his dispute with the Legislature over whether he has more time to veto 65 bills already processed into law, delivering a significant blow to a governor already engulfed in withering criticism and scrutiny seven months into his second term.

The court’s advisory opinion ruled that the governor misread the Maine Constitution when he failed to veto 65 bills within the 10-day period prescribed by law. LePage’s legal team argued that the Legislature prevented the governor from returning the vetoes because lawmakers had temporarily adjourned. However, the ruling by six of the seven justices on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected that reasoning. The seventh justice recused himself and did not participate in the proceedings.

The entirety of the unanimous, 55-page ruling is online here (pdf).

It’s hard to overstate what a disaster this is for Maine’s Tea Party governor.

To recap our previous coverage, the procedural aspect of this gets a little complicated, but in practical terms, LePage thought was giving a “pocket veto” to dozens of bills, letting them expire without his signature.

But that only works when the state legislature is adjourned and no longer in session. When the governor tried this little gambit, Maine’s legislative session was still ongoing.

And when the legislature is still in session, a bill becomes law automatically after 10 days if a governor doesn’t sign or veto it.

In other words, LePage, in his fifth year as governor, thought he was derailing dozens of pieces of legislation, some of which he strongly opposes, but he was apparently allowing them to become law – by accident.

Lawmakers and the state attorney general said those laws had become, well, law, but the GOP governor balked. Now, the state Supreme Court has ruled against LePage, too.

The governor has suggested in recent weeks that he’ll refuse to enforce the state laws he considers illegitimate, though that was before today’s state court ruling. If LePage’s posture doesn’t change, it would seem state lawmakers would have additional grounds for his impeachment.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 6, 2015

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Maine, Maine Legislature, Paul LePage | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Paul LePage Is Facing Impeachment”: Why The Tea Party Hero’s Luck May Have Finally Run Out

Even among the gaggle of hopping mad reactionaries swept into power by 2010’s Tea Party wave, the unbridled anger of Paul LePage, the former businessman who is currently in his second term as Maine’s governor, has always allowed him to stand out.

If the average Republican was outraged, for example, you could count on LePage to be incensed. If the average Republican was ignoring people of color, LePage was responding to their concerns with an invitation to give a specific part of his body a kiss. If the average Republican pandered to Fox News’ geriatric and terrified viewers, LePage offered them nothing less than the personification of their collective id.

All of which is to explain why it’s not a complete shock to read from the New York Times that state legislators in Maine are considering the nuclear option of impeachment. He’s a twice-elected conservative in a state that leans increasingly toward centrist Democrats, but watching his administration has often felt like getting a window into an alternative universe where Bill O’Reilly runs a state government. So now that Republicans in the Legislature have effectively abandoned him, the talk of canceling the Paul LePage Show mid-season actually makes sense.

If you’re one of those vanishingly few number of people who don’t pay close attention to Maine politics, however, you probably think this sounds excessively dramatic. You probably haven’t heard of LePage; so can he really be that bad? It’s not as if he did something truly remarkable, like destroy his state’s public unions or engineer gridlock on the world’s busiest bridge. It’s true that LePage doesn’t have many legislative accomplishments of significance. But to view him solely through the bills he signs — or, increasingly, vetoes — is to look at Maine’s historically genteel politics through the wrong lens.

Not unlike New Jersey’s Chris Christie, another Republican governor in an even bluer state, most of LePage’s troubles can be summed up in one word: temperament. Simply put, the guy is a walking firestorm of pettiness, fury and resentment. Infamously, one of the first things he did upon taking office in 2011 was order the removal of a pro-worker mural from the state’s Department of Labor. He said the painting suggested the government had an anti-business bias. The story earned LePage negative attention from the national media. The whole thing was gratuitous and stupid.

Taking down a mural is, obviously, not a big deal. I bring it up, however, because I think it’s a useful case-in-point for understanding two important elements of LePage’s personality. One, the severity of his lack of judgment; and two, how the overriding, distinctive feature of his approach is one of thoroughgoing meanness. For example, here’s how LePage tends to talk about his opponents — who are, in many cases, members of the general public: They’re idiots, liars and spoiled little brats; they’re corrupt, spineless and like the Nazis. He’s attacked Democrats in the state Senate with homophobia; and he’s joked about having his critics shot.

Maine’s comparatively sober-minded GOPers, perhaps the final representatives of a long New England tradition of Republican moderation, put up with LePage for years. As has been the case all over the country, the more confrontational and ideologically rigid elements of Maine’s GOP were better-organized than the other factions. And at least LePage cut taxes. But now that the governor has responded to his 2014 reelection by trying to ram through an elimination of the state’s income tax; and now that LePage promised to veto any bill that comes his way — be its author Republican or Democrat — until Democrats allow a referendum to that end, they’re feeling differently.

What Republicans are now realizing is that LePage’s kind of anti-government conservatism is in truth profoundly authoritarian. They probably knew this already, but new allegations that LePage had threatened to deny a charter school state funds unless it fired a political rival has made it impossible to ignore. The governor has all but declared war on the Legislature itself, and he has ground much of state government into a veto-induced halt. When combined with his machine-style tactics against the charter, these assaults on the state’s balance of power have given Republicans the cover they need to go after one of their own. Thus the talk of impeachment.

Saber-rattling is easy, though; so I wouldn’t be surprised if LePage ultimately finishes his second term. Then again, very little about the political career of Paul LePage, a man who’s earned the title of “America’s craziest governor,” has gone as one would expect. It certainly would be better for Maine — and the whole country, really — if LePage’s Fox News-style politics eventually brought him to an ignominious end, but a significant chunk of Maine voters evidently like having Bill O’Reilly as their governor. The Paul LePage show goes on.

 

By: Elias Isquith, Salon, June 30, 2015

July 6, 2015 Posted by | Maine, Maine Legislature, Paul LePage | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Oh, Please!”: Roy Moore Wants Ruth Bader Ginsburg Impeached

The U.S. Supreme Court probably won’t rule on marriage equality until the end of June, and when it does, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is likely to side in support of equal-marriage rights.

For the right, this will be deeply annoying – not just because of conservative opposition to marriage equality in general, but also because much of the right believes Ginsburg shouldn’t be able to participate in the case at all. Right Wing Watch had this report this afternoon:

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore spoke with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Friday about his belief that states should “resist” a potential Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, saying that Congress and the states should simply defy a court decision they disagree with by stating “that there is no right to redefine marriage” in the U.S. Constitution.

“We have justices on the Supreme Court right now who have actually performed same-sex marriages, Ginsburg and Kagan,” Moore continued. “Congress should do something about this.”

Such as? Moore raised the prospect of impeachment proceedings.

Perkins concluded, in reference to Ginsburg, “This is undermining the rule of law in our country and ushers in an age of chaos.”

Oh, please.

First, the idea that Ginsburg can’t consider the constitutional questions surrounding marriage rights because she’s performed wedding ceremonies is pretty silly.

Second, let’s not lose sight of the context here. Roy Moore, who was once expelled from state Supreme Court because he declared an ability to ignore federal court rulings he doesn’t like, continues to argue that Alabama is not bound by the federal judiciary.

There’s someone in this story who’s “undermining the rule of law in our country,” and trying to create “chaotic” conditions, but it’s clearly not Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 26, 2015

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, Roy Moore, Ruth Bader Ginsburg | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Anger Cannot Obscure Legal Reality”: On Immigration Policy, The Law And Facts Are On Obama’s Side

There is an adage every young lawyer learns: If you have the law, pound the law; if you have the facts, pound the facts. But if you have neither, pound the table.

The heated Republican rhetoric in response to President Obama’s immigration announcement is unquestionably table-pounding. His opponents have neither the law nor the facts on their side, so they have resorted to name calling and threats. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a news release referring to “Emperor Obama,” while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused him of being like a monarch and of having a “temper tantrum.” Some conservative legislators have called for censuring the president, or even initiating impeachment proceedings.

As a matter of law, however, it is absolutely clear that Obama has the authority to decide not to prosecute or deport anyone he chooses. Prosecutorial discretion is an inherent part of presidential power. The Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon declared: “The Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case.”

No one believes that the federal government has to prosecute every violation of every federal crime or to deport every person who is eligible for deportation. The federal government, for example, long has not prosecuted people caught with small amounts of marijuana even though it violates the federal controlled substance act.

Choices about whether to prosecute are based on a wide array of policy considerations, including how to best allocate scarce prosecutorial resources and whether enforcing a law produces desirable outcomes. Constitutionality is another issue that can be taken into account. It is well established that the president does not have to enforce laws that he believes to be unconstitutional; indeed, to do so would violate his oath of office to uphold the Constitution. Nor does the president have to enforce laws that he believes to be unwise.

All of this is especially clear in the area of immigration policy. The Supreme Court long has recognized that immigration and deportations are closely tied to foreign policy, which is uniquely in the domain of executive power and control. The executive discretion granted by the Constitution certainly includes deciding whether to bring deportation proceedings. Throughout history, the federal government has chosen — for humanitarian concerns or foreign policy reasons — to not try to deport some individuals or classes of individuals, even though they are not lawfully in the United States.

Republican presidents have used this discretion as much as Democratic ones. In 1987, in a decidedly political move by a president who opposed the Sandinista regime, the Reagan administration took executive action to stop deportations of 200,000 Nicaraguan exiles. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush, to advance his foreign policy, stopped deportations of Chinese students and in 1991 prevented hundreds of Kuwait citizens who were illegally in the United States from being deported. In 2001, President George W. Bush limited deportation of Salvadoran citizens at the request of the Salvadoran president, ordering that deportation decisions include consideration of factors such as whether a mother was nursing a child or whether an undocumented person was a U.S. military veteran.

All of the Republican anger cannot obscure the legal reality: Obama has the authority to decide to suspend deportations. Likewise, the facts support Obama. A cruel aspect of immigration policy is that it often separates parents, who are in the United States illegally, from their children who are U.S. citizens because they were born in this country.

Nora Sandigo, in Miami, has a sticker in her car that says “Every child is a blessing.” It is a reminder for her as she drives around to pick up yet another child whose parents have been deported. Since 2009, Sandigo has taken legal guardianship of 812 U.S. citizens whose parents have been deported. “La Gran Madre” is what many call her, but she knows her limitations. “All I can do is hold back some of the bleeding. There is no way I can give 812 children the love and attention they need, but … the system is broken.”

It is estimated that there may be as many as 5 million parents in this situation. The irony is that Republican rhetoric for years has emphasized “family values,” but it is Obama who is acting in a profoundly pro-family way.

 

By: Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law and Samuel Kleiner, a fellow at the Yale Law Information Society Project; Published in The National Memo, November 24, 2014

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Presidential Powers, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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