ACLU to Challenge Maine Campaign Finance Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PORTLAND, ME — A state court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine’s challenge to the campaign finance reform initiative passed by state voters in November 1996.
Advocating for the First Amendment rights of candidates, supporters of candidates, and political parties, the ACLU of Maine first challenged the campaign finance measure in March 1997.
In response to that challenge, U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby ruled that it would be premature to consider the matter until after the 1998 elections. Many of the provisions of the act go into effect either in 1999 or with the state legislative elections in 2000.
The ACLU said it is challenging the law on behalf of political candidates and others not because it opposes campaign finance reform, but because any reform measure must be constitutionally acceptable.
“It is our goal today, as it has been since we first filed in 1997, to correct the flaws in Maine’s law as quickly as possible so that new laws can be passed that don’t violate the First Amendment,” said Sally Sutton, Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine.
In the ACLU’s view, an effective and constitutional reform law should include:
- public financing for all qualified candidates, without penalties for those who refuse it nor endorsement of those who accept it;
- funding that provides a floor for campaign expenditures in an amount sufficient to ensure a fair public debate; and
- timely disclosure of contributions so that voters can decide for themselves whether or not a candidate has been influenced by a contribution.
The ACLU is acting on behalf of the Libertarian Party of Maine; Libertarian Party candidates Mark Cenci of Portland, Jeff Weinstein of Yarmouth, Shawn Levasseur of Rockland; State Senator Beverly Daggett of Augusta; State Representative Elaine Fuller of Manchester; and Christopher Harte of Portland.
Their attorneys are Nathaniel Rosenblatt, a partner in the Bangor law firm of Farrell, Rosenblatt and Russell, and National ACLU staff attorney Mark Lopez of New York City.
The case was filed against members of the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky, and Attorney General Andrew Ketterer.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The Latest in Voting Rights
Utah State Legislature v. League of Women Voters
New Motions Filed in Lawsuit Challenging Georgia’s Omnibus Anti-Voter Law Seek to Defend Against Racial Discrimination and Remove Barriers to Absentee Voting
Voting and Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Sue Over New Florida Law That Targets Voter Registration, Civic Engagement, and Political Speech
Honoring the Past, Paving the Future: Enhancing Voter Registration
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About Voting Rights
Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. The ACLU works to protect and expand Americansʼ freedom to vote.