The bad guys lost one today.
The Supreme Court of the United States today denied the National Organization for Marriage's petition for a writ of certiorari, which challenged the constitutionality of Maine's campaign finance disclosure laws with regards to disclosures pertaining to their (successful) efforts in 2009 backing an anti-marriage equality referendum in the Pine Tree State (which in turn overturned a legislative grant of marriage equality), raising such questions as:
1. Whether a state may impose PAC-style burdens on groups lacking the major purpose of nominating or electing candidates and whether such imposition must pass strict scrutiny.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected NOM's claims last year, stating (among many other things):
2. Whether the terms “promoting,” “support,” and “opposition” are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad in Maine’s campaign-finance laws.
[T]he informational interest [in disclosure] is not limited to informing the choice between candidates for political office. As Citizens United recognized, there is an equally compelling interest in identifying the speakers behind politically oriented messages. In an age characterized by the rapid multiplication of media outlets and the rise of internet reporting, the "marketplace of ideas" has become flooded with a profusion of information and political messages. Citizens rely ever more on a message's source as a proxy for reliability and a barometer of political spin. Disclosing the identity and constituency of a speaker engaged in political speech thus "enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages." Citizens United, 130 S. Ct. at 916; see also Cal. Pro-Life Council, Inc. v. Getman, 328 F.3d 1088, 1105 (9th Cir. 2003) (recognizing that, in the "cacophony of political communications through which . . . voters must pick out meaningful and accurate messages[,] . . . being able to evaluate who is doing the talking is of great importance"). Additionally, in the case of corporate or organizational speakers, disclosure allows shareholders and members to "hold [them] accountable for their positions." Citizens United, 130 S. Ct. at 916. In short, "[t]he First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to [that] speech . . . in a proper way." Id.The Supreme Court's denial of certiorari is not a ruling on the merits of the case, though it suggests that there is not an anti-disclosure majority on the Court. (Indeed, in Citizens United, every Justice save Thomas supported the constitutionality of disclosure requirements with regards to the sponsors of independent expenditure ads.)
Pro equality forces have put the issue on the 2012 general election ballot again, where the question will now read:
Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?