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U.S. Supreme Court refuses NOM’s challenge to Maine donor laws

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Monday, October 1, 2012
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The U.S. Supreme Court has denied another request from an anti-gay group challenging financial disclosure laws in Maine that require the organization to reveal who donated to the 2009 marriage ballot initiative campaign.

Justices announced on Monday they wouldn’t hear the case, filed by the National Organization for Marriage, on an order listing hundreds of lawsuits they have declined to hear over the course of the 2013 term.

The court’s decision not to hear the case, known as National Organization for Marriage v. McKee, was made during the September 24 conference, the first meeting of justices for this term, but wasn’t announced until Monday. Last week, the court announced six cases it had decided to consider during the conference.

NOM had filed the lawsuit against state disclosure laws in Maine after the organization in 2009 helped the anti-gay side in a referendum over recently the signed same-sex marriage law, which state voters ultimately rejected by 53 percent.

Among other things, NOM argued the same donor disclosure laws shouldn’t be applied to both political candidates and ballot questions and asserted the $100 reporting threshold in Maine is so low it doesn’t constitutionally further the state’s information interest. But the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in January affirmed a district court ruling upholding the disclosure laws, which NOM later appealed to the Supreme Court.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign, took the opportunity of the decision to knock the anti-gay group.

“NOM has shown an unwillingness to play by the rules and this is yet another legal set-back,” Sainz added. “This is proof that their penchant for secrecy has run them afoul of the law.”

Sainz said NOM won’t be required to reveal its donors immediately, but the decision means Maine can continue to pursue its investigation of NOM activities related to the 2009 ballot measure.

NOM didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment. But on the same day as the court announced it wouldn’t hear the lawsuit, Brian Brown, NOM’s president, announced a new website, KeeptheRepublicandMarriage.com, on which donors can publicly declare they’ve contributed money to the organization.

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