U.S. SC won't hear marriage group's appeal over campaign law

Jessica M. Karmasek Feb. 28, 2012, 1:55pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Supreme Court says it won't hear a challenge to Maine's campaign laws by a group opposed to same-sex marriages.

In an order list posted Monday, the Court denied the National Organization for Marriage's petition for a writ of certiorari. It did not provide any comments as to why.

This means a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit stands.

The federal appeals court upheld the state's laws as constitutional. NOM argued that they were "unconstitutionally vague" and "overbroad."

"These provisions neither erect a barrier to political speech nor limit its quantity. Rather, they promote the dissemination of information about those who deliver and finance political speech, thereby encouraging efficient operation of the marketplace of ideas," the First Circuit wrote in its Aug. 11, 2011 ruling.

In 2009, NOM was the primary contributor to Stand For Marriage Maine, a group that led the successful campaign for Proposition 1, a voter referendum that repealed a law passed by the state Legislature allowing same-sex marriages in Maine.

NOM contributed almost $2 million to Stand For Marriage Maine.

According to Maine law, any organization that makes expenditures of more than $5,000 to influence a ballot question must register and file reports with the its Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

The ethics commission, an independent state agency that administers Maine's campaign finance laws, asked NOM to disclose its donors for all of 2009. NOM refused to comply.

"Americans who want to organize, to vote and to donate to protect marriage are being singled out for harassment. No other 501(c)4 is obligated to disclose the names of donors and the demand by government officials in Maine that we expose our donors was an outrageous violation of all Americans constitutional rights," Brian Brown, NOM's president, said in a statement at the time.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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