The Maine law requires those seeking to raise and spend money in state election campaigns to organize as a political action committee and to make public disclosures about their financial operations. The justices let stand an appellate court ruling that upheld the laws as constitutional.
The U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit had said in its ruling that, “These provisions neither erect a barrier to political speech not 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.”
Maine‘s Campaign Finance laws require the registration of political action committees and disclosure of certain contributions to individual candidates and expenditures in elections. The statutes also require that all political advertisements and some other types of political messages must contain statements of attribution and on whether it was authorized by the candidate.
NOM, an organization set up solely to promote the traditional view of marriage as being reserved solely for “one-man and one woman” couples, was the principal donor in 2009 to Stand for Marriage Maine, a PAC that helped in a successful repeal of Maine‘s law legalizing same-sex marriage in a statewide ballot referendum in November of 2009. By its own accounts, NOM spent $1.8 million in 2009 on the effort to repeal the law.
After state officials moved to enforce the campaign finance disclosure laws, NOM filed the lawsuit claiming those laws violated its constitutional free-speech and due process rights.
Maine defended its laws and noted during legal filings that the campaign financial disclosure laws were designed to inform the state’s voters about who is spending money to influence their votes. The state also said that the federal government and most other states have similar requirements.
The case, National Organization for Marriage v. McKee, No. 11-599, was separate from another U.S. appeals court ruling earlier this month that could force NOM to disclose its donors who gave more than $100 to support its campaigning against same-sex marriage in the state.