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First Circuit Ruling Stands: Supreme Court Rejects NOM Appeal

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 29, 2012 3:07 PM

A First Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding a Maine campaign reporting law will remain intact after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to that law this week.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an advocacy group that opposes same-sex marriage initiatives in state legislatures, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn the First Circuit's August 2011 ruling, which deemed the campaign reporting law constitutional.

NOM, which donated almost $2 million to help repeal Maine's same-sex marriage law in 2009, claimed that a Maine law requiring the organization to release its donor list was vague, overly broad, and would stifle free speech and subject donors to harassment, reports The Associated Press.

The First Circuit disagreed, finding that Maine's election disclosure laws, "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 National Organization for Marriage could be knocking on the Supreme Court's door with another appeal shortly. In January, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against NOM in its challenge to a Maine election law related to ballot question committees.

The Supreme Court's denial this week signals bad news for Protect Marriage Washington, which is currently waging a Ninth Circuit appeal to a Washington Public Records Act requirement that referendum petition information -- including the names and addresses of its signers -- must be made available to the public.

Though the Supreme Court previously ruled in the case, Doe v. Reed, that there is no right to sign a petition anonymously, Protect Marriage is seeking an exemption for petition signers who favored overturning Washington's "Everything but Marriage" law on the grounds that signers might be intimidated or harmed.

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