Christian Civic League vows to appeal ruling

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PORTLAND (AP) – The Christian Civic League of Maine intends to appeal a ruling this week that upheld an election law that prevents the organization from running political ads targeting Maine’s Republican senators.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 bars organizations from paying for broadcast ads referring to a clearly identified federal candidate within 30 days of a primary election, or 60 days of a general election.

The Christian Civic League wanted to run an ad calling on Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to support the Marriage Protection Amendment, which says that marriage is solely between a man and a woman.

The group wanted to run the ad before an early June vote but that plan ran afoul of the primary election deadline.

Snowe doesn’t face any Republican competition in the primary, but two Democrats are competing to challenge her in the fall.

In turning down the league’s request for a temporary restraining order, a panel of three federal judges found that the organization wouldn’t suffer irreparable harm from failing to air the ads.

The panel said the section of the law is narrowly tailored and the group’s ad “is the sort of veiled attack that the Supreme Court has warned may improperly influence an election.”

James Bopp, a lawyer for the Christian Civic League, said the group would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bopp argued that the panel of judges failed to recognize the difference between the use of advertising for grass-roots lobbying and for influencing elections, the latter of which is prohibited by provisions in the law.

“We don’t think the court really came to grips with the whole idea that the right to petition is a separately protected right that cannot be infringed on in the name of campaign finance reform,” Bopp said.

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