James Madison Center

Justice Kennedy Orders Response on Request to Halt Maine Public Funding Scheme

PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, October 19, 2010 Contact: James Bopp, Jr. Phone 812/232-2434; Fax 812/235-3685; jboppjr@aol.com

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy today ordered responsive briefing on an emergency request to halt unconstitutional aspects of Maine’s public funding scheme for state candidates.

The Maine Clean Elections Act, passed in 1995, provides taxpayer funding for Maine legislative and gubernatorial candidates who agree to limit how much money they raise and spend on their campaigns. Under the scheme, state legislative candidates receive between $500 and $19,000 in initial funding, plus additional “matching funds” if they are outspent by their opponent and independent groups.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Rep. Andre Cushing, is state representative for District 39 of the Maine legislature, and is currently running for re-election in 2010. Rep. Cushing hasn’t taken public funding for his campaign. Yet because he has raised more than $4,656 for his campaign, every additional dollar he raises will result in an equal taxpayer funded contribution to his opponent.

In June, an identical public funding system in Arizona was halted by Justice Kennedy until the Supreme Court had a chance to hear the case. Nevertheless, both the federal trial court and court of appeals have refused to stop Maine’s use of matching funds, saying that the suit was brought too close to the election. A prior request to Justice Stephen Breyer was also denied.

Plaintiffs application to Justice Kennedy was filed with the Supreme Court last Thursday, October 14, 2010. Responsive briefing is due by this Thursday, October 21st at 3:00 pm.

“The First Amendment applies in Maine as well as Arizona,” said James Bopp, Jr.,counsel for the plaintiffs, “Allowing the Maine scheme to go forward while the identical Arizona scheme is stopped would be legally incoherent.

” The case is Cushing v. McKee. Copies of the application and other documents relating to the case are available in PDF online at the James Madison Center’s website, www.jamesmadisoncenter.org.

James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.

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