BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request to order the State of Maine to return a mural to the Department of Labor office where it was removed in late March.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock ruled that the mural represents government speech because the state commissioned, approved, paid for and owned it. The judge said that government speech may say what it wishes regardless of viewpoint.

Gov. Paul LePage had ordered the removal of the 36-foot-long mural, saying it presented a one-sided view of history.

Critics of his action sued, contending that LePage violated their First Amendment right of access to the artwork.

Maine Attorney General William Schneider applauded Woodcock’s decision, saying the judge correctly found that elected officials can and should express their views.


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