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home : • special features : special features June 29, 2015

Quarry Hill - middle banner - sub section

10/7/2010 9:39:00 PM
Court Denies Challenge to Maine's Clean Election Law
appeals continue
by Alice McFadden

On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected a motion for an emergency injunction to invalidate the matching funds provision of Maine's Clean Election law, the contribution limit for gubernatorial candidates, and certain public reporting requirements.

In denying the motion, the court said it considered the considerable harm that an emergency injunction would cause the many candidates who have relied on the challenged provisions and the harm to the public interest from "the chaos that will ensue if the Maine election laws, which have been in place since 1996, are invalidated by a court order in the crucial final weeks before an election."

Tuesday's ruling only concerned the emergency injunction motion, and the court noted, "We acknowledge that the issues raised by the challenges to Maine's laws are difficult and will require careful analysis. . . . Given these difficulties, we cannot forecast what our ultimate judgment on the merits will be."

The challenges to Maine's campaign finance laws are part of a flood of litigation across the country seeking to overturn campaign finance precedent. "Challenges are pending from Maine to Hawaii as litigants rush to get before the Roberts Court," according to the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. "Seemingly no campaign finance law will be left undisturbed by the rash of new lawsuits."

The lead counsel in many of these challenges, including the ones to Maine's Clean Election Act, is James Bopp, Jr., the man behind Citizens United. Bopp is joined in the challenge of Maine's election laws by David Crocker of the Maine Heritage Policy Center as local counsel in the case.

Bopp also represents the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Last year NOM gave nearly $2 million to the committee that was working to repeal the same-sex marriage law that had been passed by Maine's legislature. NOM challenged Maine's law that requires any group that spends over $5,000 to influence a ballot question vote to disclose donors who gave more than $100 and is challenging Maine's disclosure rules for political action committees. The court has ruled that the "influence" standards are unconstitutionally vague, but that, otherwise, Maine's laws governing PACs, independent campaign expenditures and attribution requirements are constitutional. The case is being appealed.

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