Legal Challenges

MCCE has defended the Maine Clean Election Act in the courts since its passage.

On the federal level, the Supreme Court has acted to overturn decades of precedent in its ruling on the Citizens United case, and, in 2011, struck down the matching funds provision in Arizona's Clean Elections law (see MCCE's amicus brief in Arizona Free Enterprise Club vs Bennett). The result of this case led MCCE to the 2015 ballot initiative to restore Clean Elections.

On the state level, MCCE defended against two lawsuits filed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) that threatened to undermine the very foundation of the Maine Clean Election Act.

In 2018, MCCE sued Governor LePage over his refusal to allow Clean Elections funding to be dispersed to candidates for Legislature and Governor. See more information here.


Ranked Choice Voting:

In the winter of 2017,  the Maine Senate invoked the “solemn occasion” provision of the Maine constitution, which asked for a court review of the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) law. The League of Women Voters of Maine and MCCE filed a brief and a response brief with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court arguing that no solemn occasion exists and affirming the opinions of constitutional scholars and experts that RCV is fully constitutional. Read more here.


Other Legal Challenges:

NOM Challenge to Maine's Disclosure Law

In 2009, during the referendum campaign to overturn Maine's marriage equality law, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) filed a lawsuit to overturn Maine's campaign finance disclosure laws. NOM donated almost $2 million to Stand for Marriage Maine, and the Ethics Commission received a complaint that they had not registered and made certain disclosures under the Ballot Question Committee law. When the Commission began to investigate, NOM sued to overturn the disclosure requirements, arguing that to be forced to reveal the names of their donors would be an infringement of their First Amendment rights. Click here to read more


Challenge to Maine Clean Election Act

Maine's campaign finance laws were subject to a challenge in Cushing v McKee in 2010. The lawsuit aimed to: eliminate Maine's Clean Election matching funds system, eliminate the contribution limit for donors to gubernatorial candidates, and eliminate reporting requirements for independent expenditures. Click here to read more


U.S. Supreme Court action on Arizona's Clean Elections law

McComish v Bennett is an Arizona case in which the plaintiffs sued to overturn the matching funds system on First Amendment grounds. Maine faced a similar challenge brought by the National Right to Life groups in the late 1990's. In 2000, our matching funds system was upheld by both the District Court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. Click here to read more


U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Citizens United case

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court overturned a six decade-long prohibition against spending corporate and union treasury money to directly campaign for or against federal candidates. Corporations and unions have been prohibited from spending money from their general funds on express advocacy at the federal level since 1947, when Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act. Since overturning Citizens United, there has been an explosion of money in politics. Click here to read more.