Today, the Maine Supreme Court issued its ruling on a case involving the ongoing public dispute between Governor Paul R. LePage and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.
The attorney general has frustrated the governor as he pursues a conservative agenda. In multiple instances, the high profile Democrat has refused to represent the state and come out publicly against the governor’s positions.
In January, LePage asked the state’s highest court to rule on two questions:
1. If the Attorney General refuses to represent a State agency (or any other entity listed in 5 M.R.S. § 191) in a lawsuit, must the Executive Branch still obtain the Attorney General’s permission to hire outside counsel to represent the agency in the suit?
Since no attorney general has ever denied permission for the governor to hire outside council, said the court, the question remains hypothetical. Therefore, the court refrained from addressing the issue at present.
However, the court did side with LePage on the second question, stating that the governor’s office did not have to allow the attorney general to direct litigation if she had opposed a state agency’s lawsuit.
The governor’s second question for the court is in regard to his decision to file suit with the United States Supreme Court in defense of his proposed Medicaid State Plan Amendment. While Mills declined to represent the state in this litigation, her office asked for billing and time estimates from the governor’s private council before each step in the process.
The Maine Supreme Court found this to be intervening in the litigation even though Mills had decided not to take part in it. The attorney general cannot intervene in litigation after she declined to represent the state and approved private council, stated the court. It is also worth noting that because Janet Mills filed a brief opposing the LePage Administration in this case, taxpayers incurred an additional $6,670 in legal fees to rebut the Mills’ brief.
“The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed my belief that the Attorney General should not have authority over litigation that the Executive is involved in when the Attorney General decides to publicly take the opposite position,” said Governor LePage. “When that happens, it is a clear conflict of interest, and I thank the Justices for recognizing it.”
With all due respect, Mr. Strout should take some spelling and grammar lessons before publishing articles, i.e. council (counsel), their (there).
The Supreme Court made it very clear that it is the attorney general’s choice whether or not to allow a lawsuit to go forward with outside counsel if the attorney general opposes a lawsuit filed by the governor,
While the AG can no longer influence the direction of the lawsuit once having declined to prosecute a case, it is the AG, not the governor, who decides if the case can be pursued by the governor.
As AG Mills said, “The Justices have refused the Governor’s request to destroy the core principle reflected in our Constitution and case law that it is the Maine Attorney General who is responsible for determining the voice of the public interest in the courts of Maine.”
TheMaineWire readers would be pretty ignorant if not for volunteer interpreters posting in the comments sections of your articles. Just sayin’.
But then, ignorance is strength in the land of the wicked.
My my! democrats just can’t stand that the people paying the taxes have had enough. Mills is a pathetic bobble head flunky of the far left, it has nothing to do with justice, it has everything to do with socialism and power. She is an embarrassment to the state and does a disservice to the hardworking taxpayers of this state.