In addition to refusing to hear an appeal from Nebraskans United for Life, on Monday the Supreme Court also announced it will not hear an appeal brought by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to a lower court’s ruling that would require the group to disclose who funded its fight against same-sex marriage in Maine.
The case, NOM v. McKee began in 2009 as a complaint that the group violated Maine’s campaign finance laws when it failed to disclose donors to its 2009 referendum campaign which successfully overturned the legislature’s passage of a marriage equality law. During that campaign NOM spent $1.9 million, expressly solicited contributions to support those efforts, but refused to report those donors as required by state law.
NOM challenged the constitutionality of the Maine disclosure law, arguing it violated the group’s First Amendment rights and created an “onerous” burden on non-profts advocating for or against ballot measures that should only be borne by political committees advocating for or against candidates. A federal district court disagreed. NOM appealed and in January 2012 a federal appellate court ruled against NOM. Maine’s campaign finance laws require that certain individuals and organizations that “receive contributions or make expenditures” other than through PAC’s, “for the purpose of initiating or influencing a [ballot-measure] disclose and report those contributions and expenditures” constitutionally apply to NOM. The First Circuit let the law and disclosure requirements stand and NOM turned to the Supreme Court for help. That request was denied Monday.
In refusing to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court lets stand that ruling that will force NOM to follow the state’s disclosure laws and shine daylight onto funding of these astroturf campaigns. NOM and other anti-equality organizations insist that their donors have no problem coming forward with their bigotry. Now they will have a chance to do so.