Gov. Paul LePage's decision to remove a mural from the Department of Labor building was protected as government speech, a federal judge ruled Friday. U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. said the state was allowed to take down the mural because it owns the artwork.
Besides finding in favor of LePage and members of his administration, Woodcock also dismissed two counts of an amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs, according to the Bangor Daily News. Three artists named as plaintiffs sued to seek a trial to compel LePage to restore the mural in the state building. But Woodcock argued that because the state commissioned the artwork and paid for it, the state has the right to decide what to do with it, and can even destroy it. LePage said the mural is in a safe place but would not say where.
LePage in March 2011 ordered the removal of the mural, which contains 11 panels depicting the history of the labor movement in Maine, because he said it was one-sided.