Citizens and Legislators to Take Presiding Officers and Governor to Court

Plaintiffs will hold a PRESS CONFERENCE WEDNESDAY, May 3 @ 9:00 AM  in the Visitor’s Center of the State House

Augusta, Maine – Several members of the State Legislature have joined a citizen-initiated lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Special Session convened by Governor Janet Mills. Respect Maine, a non-profit organization advocating for responsible government which respects both the Constitution and the people of Maine, has also joined the lawsuit on behalf of its members.

“The Maine state constitution says the Governor can call a Special Session, but ONLY if there is an ‘Extraordinary Occasion’ that is a catalyst for calling such a Special Session like a pandemic or a natural disaster. The Legislative Branch saying that their work is done by adjourning Sine Die is not an extraordinary occasion,” said Representative John Andrews of Paris “The Legislature adjourns Sine Die every year and bills die because of it. There is nothing extraordinary about it at all.”

Respect Maine Board Member Michelle Tucker said, “This lawsuit matters because, when our legislative and executive branches start to routinely circumvent the rules they write and are supposed to enforce, it becomes the people’s duty to hold them accountable.”

The lawsuit alleges that the presiding officers of the 131st Maine State Legislature colluded with each other and with Governor Mills to pass a partisan budget bill earlier than necessary in March. The Presiding Officers did this banking on the fact that Governor Mills would call the Legislature back into a special session, unconstitutionally overriding the Legislature’s official decision to adjourn the regular session months ahead of the statutory deadline and not immediately reconvene in a special session.

For her part, Governor Mills officially proclaimed that that this “extraordinary occasion”—of the Democrats’ own doing, no less—required the Legislature to reconvene to complete the rest of its legislative business. The pressing business identified by Governor Mills included such matters as confirming her nominees for judicial appointments and, vaguely, “whatever other business may come before the legislature.” Instead of defending the Legislature’s authority, the presiding officers have eagerly acquiesced to legislating to Governor Mills’ satisfaction.

Governor Mills’ actions conflict starkly with her own legal opinion as Attorney General. As Maine’s Attorney General in 2015, Janet Mills wrote that it is solely up to the Legislature to determine when its own legislative session is over, and further added: “for another branch of government to reinterpret the decision of the Legislature [as to when its session ended] might well violate . . . the Maine Constitution.”

The plaintiffs in Clardy et al v. Jackson, Talbot Ross and Mills are represented by Carl E. Woock, Esq., and Stephen C. Smith, Esq., of Steve Smith Trial Lawyers in Augusta


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