In a highly unusual move, the full 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to rehear an appeal of a federal court ruling dismissing former Maine House Speaker Mark Eves’ lawsuit against Gov. Paul LePage.
The court said Friday that a majority of the judges voted to hear the appeal of the case’s dismissal, which had previously been upheld by a panel of three of the circuit court’s judges.
“We’re one step closer to holding the governor accountable for an egregious abuse of power,” said Eves, who is now running for governor. “I’m not going to give up.”
Eves, who was finishing up his term in the State House at the time, was hired in 2015 to be president of Good Will-Hinckley School, which also operates the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences charter school in Hinckley. The school’s board rescinded the offer, saying it wanted to “avoid political controversy” after LePage threatened to block state funding for the school if it went ahead with the job offer to Eves, a Democrat and frequent political opponent of the governor.
LePage argued that Eves had opposed charter schools as House speaker and therefore shouldn’t be hired to run an organization that also operated a charter school.
Eves then filed a federal lawsuit against LePage, accusing the Republican governor of “blackmailing” the school for at-risk students and asserting that LePage was violating Eves’ rights to free speech, political affiliation and due process by saying funding would be blocked if the job offer wasn’t withdrawn.
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