Maine high court to hear appeals in Ralph Nader, National Organization for Marriage cases

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted April 08, 2013, at 6:19 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court this week will hear oral arguments in two high-profile, politically charged cases that already have been decided by voters.

Justices will consider Wednesday whether a lower court judge erred when he ruled that Ralph Nader could have his day in Washington County Superior Court. That lawsuit alleges the Maine Democratic Party thwarted the efforts of Nader supporters in get his name on the 2004 presidential ballot.

Nader’s suit, filed in 2009 in Maine, alleged a civil conspiracy that involved abuse of process and malicious prosecution in Maine and 17 other states and the District of Columbia. It claimed that Democrats orchestrated a concerted, nationwide effort to neutralize Nader’s 2004 presidential campaign by filing baseless lawsuits that challenged the validity to place Nader and his running mate, the late Peter Miguel Camejo, on the ballot.

While losing nationally, John Kerry won in Maine with 53 percent of the vote to President George W. Bush’s 45 percent, and independent Nader — a lawyer, consumer advocate and longtime critic of two-party politics — took 1 percent, according to unofficial results from 99 percent of Maine’s precincts as compiled by the Bangor Daily News.

The state’s high court will consider Thursday whether the National Organization for Marriage must turn over to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices the names of donors in the referendum more than three years ago that repealed Maine’s gay marriage law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci.

Based in Virginia, NOM is a major, national opponent of gay marriage legislation. It raised about $1.9 million, the vast majority of the money spent in the 2009 campaign that repealed gay marriage in Maine. It did not register as a political action committee, as the state’s campaign finance laws required, according to the commission that oversee election finances.

NOM maintains that revealing the names of its donors would violate the First Amendment and that the subpoenas seeking the information are overbroad and irrelevant.

Voters in November approved same-sex marriage by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent. The 2009 vote was 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of repealing the gay marriage law, which never went into effect.

There is no timeline under which the justice must issue their opinions.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/08/politics/maine-high-court-to-hear-appeals-in-nader-national-organization-for-marriage-cases/ printed on July 31, 2014