Judge Favors LePage in Mural Lawsuit
A federal judge on Friday ruled in favor of Gov. Paul LePage in a lawsuit over the governor's controversial removal of a Department of Labor mural.
The decision by U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock denied a trial of the lawsuit seeking to compel LePage to restore the mural to the walls of the Department of Labor building in Augusta.
“Having concluded that the state of Maine engaged in government speech when it commissioned and displayed the labor mural, it follows that Gov. LePage also engaged in government speech when he removed the mural,” Woodcock wrote in his ninety-page ruling. “The governor’s message — whether verbal or in the form of the expressive act of removal — is government speech.”
The 11-panel mural was created by Tremont artist Judy Taylor and hung in the lobby of the Department of Labor in 2008. It features women shipbuilders during World War II, the 1986 International Paper strike in Jay, child laborers, and part-time Maine resident Frances Perkins, who as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s labor secretary was integral to the creation of a minimum wage and Social Security.
LePage ordered he mural removed a year ago because he said it wasn’t in keeping with his pro-business agenda.