April 24, 2012

Labor mural plaintiffs file notice of appeal

From staff reports

AUGUSTA — The plaintiffs in the labor mural lawsuit plan to appeal the ruling of a federal judge who found that Gov. Paul LePage was within his government speech rights when he ordered the work removed from a state office building.

Jeffrey Young and Jonathan Beal, lawyers for the plaintiffs, contend that U.S. District Judge John Woodcock was wrong when he concluded last month that the mural was government speech rather than the speech of Judy Taylor, the artist commissioned by the state to create it.

"When a simple, accurate portrayal of history is determined to be partisan speech and is removed, we are in dangerous territory. When a court bolsters this prejudice with its legal prestige, we are in worse trouble," Robert Shetterly, a Brooksville artist and one of the plaintiffs, said in a prepared statement.

In March 2011, LePage ordered the 11-panel mural removed from the waiting room of the Labor Department. It was placed in an undisclosed location. At the time, LePage described the mural as "one-sided," but the actions prompted sharp criticism from some.

The mural depicts various scenes from Maine labor history, including child workers, strikes and an image of Rosie the Riveter.

The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal with the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston last week.

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