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Plaintiffs appeal case involving mural removed by Maine governor

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April 28, 2012

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

By Greg Janetka

PORTLAND, Maine: The controversy over a mural removed from a state building last year by Gov. Paul LePage (R) continues. This past week plaintiffs in the case announced they filed an appeal in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.[1]

The 36-foot mural in question, which depicts the state's labor history movement, was created by artist Judy Taylor in 2008.[2] It hung in the lobby of the state's Labor Department until March 2011 when LePage ordered the mural removed after, as a spokeswoman for the governor explained, he received several complaints from business officials and an anonymous fax saying it was akin to “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.”[3]

LePage was immediately met with protests, which ultimately led to a court battle. On March 23, 2012, U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. sided with LePage, saying that the move was an acceptable form of government speech.

In his opinion, Woodcock wrote, “The record establishes that the idea for the commissioning of the mural began with the state of Maine, that Maine established its theme, that Maine commissioned its creation, that Maine chose the artist, that Maine paid for the mural, that Maine owns the mural, that Maine displays [or not] the mural on its own property, and that Maine even has the right to destroy it."[4]

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