Group urges Maine to implement Supreme Court decision in contribution limits case

For Release: April 29, 2014 Contact: Joe Trotter Phone: 210-352-0055 (Cell)

Alexandria, Va. — A First Amendment advocacy group today urged the governor, attorney general and other Maine officials to repeal a state campaign contribution limit law and halt its enforcement because the law is unconstitutional after the Supreme Court’s ruling this month in the case McCutcheon v. FEC.

A letter sent by David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), urges the officials “to take quick action to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision in order to ensure Maine does not continue to violate its citizens’ First Amendment rights.”  The letter says Maine has a law that is “essentially identical” to the federal law that was declared unconstitutional.  “To ensure compliance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Maine should repeal [its law] as soon as possible.  Until the law is repealed or otherwise amended in order to comply with the Court’s ruling, we urge the Attorney General and other state officials who have responsibility to enforce the state’s campaign finance laws to immediately announce that this law will no longer be enforced.”

In McCutcheon, the Court ruled that citizens could not be limited in how much they spend overall on contributions to political candidates, parties and PACs in each election cycle.  The Court did not strike down limits on donations to any single candidate, but rather the aggregate limit on donations to all candidates.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court, “The Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

The letter warns that “If Maine fails to either amend or repeal this statute to conform to the Court’s ruling, it risks a lawsuit. CCP has provided pro bono representation in similar situations, and would strongly consider doing so here as well. Such legal action would cost the state money defending the case, and would distract the Attorney General’s office from other important legal work. Additionally, if the state chooses to defend the law in court, it is probable that the state will have to pay substantial legal fees to successful plaintiffs.”

Two states, Massachusetts and Maryland, have already announced that they will no longer enforce their aggregate limits. The Rhode Island State Board of Elections announced that it would support legislation that would repeal the state’s aggregate limit provision, and some or all of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s provisions are currently being challenged in court.

Similar letters will be sent to officials in as many as 17 other states and the District of Columbia outlining why each jurisdiction’s laws require immediate revision.

A copy of CCP’s letter to Governor Paul LePage is available here. Identical letters were sent to Attorney General Janet Mills, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau, House Speaker Mark Eves, House Minority Leader Kenneth Wade Fredette, Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs Senate Chairman John Tuttle, House Chairman Louis Luchini, and Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices Executive Director Jonathan Wayne.

About the Center for Competitive Politics

The Center for Competitive Politics is one of the nation’s premier centers of public interest litigation. It is the only public interest law firm with in-house litigation staff solely focused on the defense of First Amendment rights to free political speech, assembly and petition. CCP was co-counsel in v. Federal Election Commission, which held that there can be no limits on contributions to independent expenditure committees. This case created what is now known as Super PACs. CCP’s amicus brief was cited in the majority opinion in the Citizens United case. CCP’s legal team represents two cases now pending at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.