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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects NOM's Challenge to Maine's Candidate Election Laws
02/28/2012   Reported By: Susan Sharon

In yet another setback for the National Organization for Marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it won't hear the anti-gay marriage group's challenge to Maine's candidate election laws. Last month the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against NOM in a separate case dealing with Maine's campaign disclosure law that requires it to reveal its donors. NOM has said it would appeal that ruling. But the group is running out of options.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects NOM's Challenge to Main Listen

NOM has been battling the state of Maine over its election laws ever since 2009 when it provided most of the money, $1.9 million dollars, for the successful campaign to repeal the state's same-sex marriage law. When questions were raised about who NOM's donors were, the group refused to make them public.

And when the Maine Ethics Commission opened an investigation to determine whether or not NOM should have registered as a Ballot Question Committee, the group asked a Maine Superior Court to intervene, saying the commission might reveal confidential information in the process. That case is still pending as NOM fights Maine's election laws on two different fronts at the federal level.

"The attorney general's office is very pleased that the Supreme Court has denied NOM's cert petition and the challenge that they've made through the candidate election laws," says Assistant Attorney General Tom Knowlton, who is defending Maine's election laws against NOM"s challenges.

So far Knowlton's batting a thousand. Not only has the high court refused to consider NOM"s challenge to candidate election laws as being "overly vague and broad," but last month the 1st Circuit upheld the state's campaign disclosure law that requires groups defined as Ballot Question Committees which raise and spend more than $5,000 dollars to influence elections to register and disclose their donors.

NOM's attorney James Bopp did not return telephone calls seeking comment for this story. But Bopp has previously said he would appeal that decision to the Supreme Court. But attorney Mary Bonauto of the Boston-based group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders says she doesn't think the high court will consider that appeal either.

"I think it's very likely the Supreme Court would deny any review in the case about the Ballot Question Committee. You have to remember there's a real landscape here and the landscape, the line that the Supreme Court has drawn is, there can be a lot of contributions, it's fine to contribute, but you have to disclose, because disclosure is what makes the process work. And that is exactly what NOM is refusing to do."

****Even if the Supreme Court refuses to consider, or rejects, an appeal for NOM, a new campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine is likely to be concluded before NOM's donor list is ever released. That's because a Superior Court judge put NOM's challenge of the state Ethics Commission investigation on hold while the federal cases proceeded.????


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