March 18, 2018
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LePage cancels his withdrawals of judicial nominations

Andrew Harnik | AP
Andrew Harnik | AP
Gov. Paul LePage attends a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss health care and tax reform in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Complex in Washington, Sept. 22, 2017.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

Gov. Paul LePage has canceled his withdrawal of five judicial nominees just before they were to be voted on in the Maine Senate.

In letters to House Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Mike Thibodeau dated Oct. 20, LePage said he was withdrawing nominations for Superior Court Justices Robert E. Murray Jr. of Bangor, MaryGay Kennedy of Brunswick and Ann M. Murray of Bangor, and District Court Judges Bruce A. Jordan of Veazie and Susan E. Oran of Auburn.

However, LePage sent new letters Monday morning notifying Gideon and Thibodeau that he would allow the nominations to move forward.

Mary Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the Maine judicial branch, said in an email late Monday morning that “I understand the governor has rescinded his withdrawal and we look forward to a confirmation vote today.”

All five judges were confirmed unanimously Monday morning in the Senate.

LePage offered no reason for the withdrawals in the letters and his communications office did not respond to queries on Sunday or Monday. Some lawmakers questioned whether the letters and follow-up letters would trigger the nomination and vetting process to start over, though none of LePage’s letters had been accepted into the House or Senate record.

The situation comes on the heels of Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy’s ruling against the governor last week in his lawsuit against Attorney General Janet Mills over legal fees. LePage wanted to weigh in on the federal battle over President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and Mills refused to represent the governor.

In a ruling dated Oct. 16, Murphy dismissed LePage’s lawsuit saying the courts do not have the constitutional authority to order an attorney general to pay legal costs incurred by a governor.

Gideon called the withdrawals “deeply troubling” because they came without explanation.

“All Mainers have the right to access the court system in a timely manner and this type of delay could affect the delivery of justice,” Gideon said in a written statement.

The Legislature convenes Monday for a special session to consider a number of items, including several confirmations of gubernatorial appointments.

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