US Court of Appeals First Circuit Decision: National Organization for Marriage v. Walter F. McKee

US Court of Appeals First Circuit Decision: National Organization for Marriage v. Walter F. McKee

August 11, 2011
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After careful consideration of the parties' arguments and key precedents, we conclude that Maine's laws pass constitutional muster. Central to our holding is the nature of the laws NOM challenges here. These provisions neither erect a barrier to political speech nor limit its quantity. Rather, they promote the dissemination of information about those who deliver and finance political speech, thereby encouraging efficient operation of the marketplace of ideas. As the Supreme Court recently observed, such compulsory "transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages." Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876, 916 (2010). While we acknowledge that disclosure can, in some cases, unduly burden or chill political speech, there is no evidence that the Maine laws at issue here have had such a deleterious effect on NOM or its constituents.
 
We agree with the appellees that the use of "for the purpose of influencing" in the statutes at issue, given the appropriately limited reading offered by Maine's Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, is not unconstitutionally vague, and therefore we vacate the district court's holding as to that phrase and the consequent severance of portions of Maine's statutes. We otherwise affirm the district court's judgment in its entirety.