(CN) – The 1st Circuit denied an emergency motion to block provisions of Maine’s campaign-finance laws before the Nov. 2 election, citing the “chaos” that would ensue.
Respect Maine PAC and two individuals, Harold Clough and Rep. Andrew Cushing III, challenged the constitutionality of state election laws that set reporting requirements for independent expenditures, capped contributions to gubernatorial candidates at $750 per election and provided matching funds for some candidates under the Maine Clean Election Act.
They claimed the provisions burdened their speech in violation of the First Amendment.
A federal judge refused to grant an injunction before the Nov. 2 election, and the Boston-based appeals court agreed that it was too early to make that call.
“We acknowledge that the issues raised by the challenges to Maine’s laws are difficult and will require careful analysis, on a fully developed record,” the three-judge panel wrote. “Given these difficulties, we cannot forecast what our ultimate judgment on the merits will be.”
The judges said the challengers failed to show any “immediate injury” requiring an emergency injunction.
“We also note the harm to the public interest from the chaos that will ensue if the Maine election laws, which have been in place since 1996, are invalidated by a court order in the crucial final weeks before an election,” the court wrote.
“Given the potential harm to Maine and to all candidates if the emergency injunction were granted, and the public interest in maintaining the status quo during the period of the Court’s deliberations, we deny the emergency motion.”