Potential Law Court decision on veto dispute could take six weeks

Good morning from Augusta, from whence the action has been shipped all the way down to Portland, home of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Gov. Paul LePage on Friday asked the court to weigh in on a dispute over 65 vetoes he delivered to lawmakers during the last day of the legislative session, on Thursday. The presiding officers in the House and Senate dismissed the vetoes as out-of-order, saying LePage had missed his deadline for acting on the bills, which have become law.

LePage wants to court to answer whether he really botched his veto plans, and whether the bills have really become law.

First, the court must decide whether the flap rises to the level of a “solemn occasion,” which is a prerequisite for the justices to weigh in on fights between the Legislature and the governor. An open dispute over whether bills have become laws — and thus whether the governor must enforce them as such — would seem to clear that hurdle but, hey, I’m not a justice of the Law Court.

This is the second time this year that LePage has gone to the high court to settle a dispute. In January, he filed a request for the justices to arbitrate his latest fight with Attorney General Janet Mills — a fight in which both ultimately claimed half-victories.

The timeline in that case could be instructive in how this one may pan out.

From request to ruling, the process took about six weeks, from Jan. 28 until March 10. LePage and Mills had two weeks or so to file briefs and responses before the court decided to hear oral arguments, which took place on Feb. 26. The justices released their written opinion 12 days later.

If this fight follows the same rough timeline, we may not have a decision until September. For now, we’ll be watching for any word from the court that the question will be taken up at all. Stay tuned. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

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Best news tease ever

Whether or you celebrate or jeer Marcy’s Diner owner Darla Neugebaur losing her temper on a wailing toddler, this video from WCSH-6 has got to be one of the best news teasers of all time. — Mario Moretto.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.