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Paul LePage Takes Surprisingly Reasonable Stance On Supreme Court Vacancy

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 18/02/2016 Daniel Marans
ATHENA IMAGE © Joe Phelan/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Thursday suggested he would favor President Barack Obama nominating someone to the open Supreme Court seat, becoming the latest Republican to say so in the days following Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death.

“I'm a big constitutionalist,” LePage told the Maine Sun-Journal . “If it's in the Constitution, I think it means something.”

LePage, who was first elected in 2010 as part of a tea party wave, is not the Republican official one might expect to part ways with the Republican leadership.

He elicited controversy in January for suggesting that Maine residents deal with the state’s drug abuse problem by shooting drug dealers. A  few weeks before,  he used racially loaded language and imaginary names like  "D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" to describe those drug dealers.

LePage’s view is consistent with Maine Republicans' independent streak, however. Susan Collins, Maine's Republican senator, has said she would give "careful consideration" to any Obama nominee in accordance with her constitutional duties. 

The governor's remarks are unlikely to make much of a difference in the nomination process one way or another, something he freely conceded.

"I have no clue what the federal government is going to do and I have no clue what the state legislature is going to do, so I don't even worry about it," LePage remarked. 

It is up to the Republican-controlled Senate to consider and approve a president’s Supreme Court nominations, and GOP senators -- aside from some prominent exceptions -- have opposed the notion of even considering an Obama nominee.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has ruled out the possibility of seating a Supreme Court nominee until the next president takes office.

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