Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Court

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Since 2001, Callaghan has worked part-time at the South Portland Library. Edwards works for the Parks and Recreation Department about four hours per week. Both are subject to a personnel policy, which, following 2010-2011 amendments, provides that city employees may not seek or accept nomination or election to any South Portland elective office; use the influence of their employment for or against any candidate for city elective office; circulate petitions or campaign literature for any city elective office; solicit or receive subscriptions, contributions or political service from any person for or against any candidate for any city elective office; or use city property to assist or advocate for or against any candidate. Callaghan has served on the School Board since 2007. When Callaghan sought reelection in 2011, the City Clerk stated that the personnel policy amendments prevented placement of her name on the ballot. Edwards had served on the Board for 18 years. In 2010, Edwards expressed interest in filling a vacancy on the Board. After the City Clerk questioned whether Edwards could be appointed given his city employment, Edwards did not pursue the appointment. Edwards and Callaghan filed a complaint, 42 U.S.C. 1983, asserting that the policy was an unconstitutional restraint on political speech. The trial court entered partial summary judgment for the employees and an injunction barring enforcement of a prohibition on any city employee seeking election to or serving on the School Board or, on their own time, from circulating petitions or campaign literature and soliciting or receiving contributions or political service for or against candidates in School Board elections. The Maine Supreme Court affirmed as to the employees, but vacated the judgment to the extent that it invalidates the policy as to employees who were not parties. View "Callaghan v. City of South Portland" on Justia Law

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The Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices subpoenaed documents and testimony from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) seeking the names of donors to NOM in order to determine whether NOM had complied with Maine's campaign laws during the 2009 election season. The superior court affirmed the Commission's decision not to vacate or modify the subpoenas. Appellants, including NOM and Stand for Marriage Maine PAC, appealed, contending that the Commission's subpoenas infringed on their right to freedom of association because disclosure would expose NOM's donors to threats, harassment, and reprisal. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, concluding that the record did not support Appellants' constitutional argument. View "Nat'l Org. for Marriage v. Comm'n on Governmental Ethics & Election Practices" on Justia Law

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Ralph Nader, a candidate in the 2004 election, filed a civil complaint along with four of his presidential electors (collectively, Nader) in 2009 against the Maine Democratic Party and several other entities and individuals involved in the election (collectively, MDP). The complaint alleged that MDP directed the filing of two challenges to Nader's candidacy. MDP filed a special motion to dismiss pursuant to Maine's anti-SLAPP statute, which permits defendants to file a special motion to dismiss civil claims against them that are based on the defendants' exercise of the constitutional right to petition. The superior court granted the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for consideration of the special motion to dismiss pursuant to a newly announced standard for applying the anti-SLAPP statute. On remand, the superior court concluded that Nader had satisfied the newly announced standard and denied MDP's special motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded with instructions to dismiss the entirety of Nader's complaint against MDP, holding that the motion to dismiss Nader's complaint pursuant to Maine's anti-SLAPP statute should have been granted. View "Nader v. Me. Democratic Party" on Justia Law

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Ralph Nader, an independent candidate for President in the 2004 presidential election, and his Maine presidential electors (collectively, Nader) filed a six-count complaint against the Maine Democratic Party (MDP) and others, alleging that Defendants took direct action, and conspired with others, to prevent Nader from appearing on the ballot in Maine and other jurisdictions as a candidate in the 2004 presidential election. The superior court granted Defendants' special motions to dismiss Nader's complaint pursuant to the Maine anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, concluding that Defendants satisfied their burdens under the statute of showing that their activity of challenging nomination petitions was activity manifesting their right of petition under the state and federal Constitutions and that Nader had failed to meet his burden of showing Defendants' efforts were devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, concluding that the Maine anti-SLAPP statute may not be invoked to achieve dismissal of claims alleging abuses of process without giving the plaintiff the opportunity to establish a prima facie case to support the claims. Remanded. View "Nader v. Me. Democratic Party" on Justia Law