Pubdate: Tue, 23 Feb 1999
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 1999, Bangor Daily News Inc.


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand two
requirements for people who circulate voter initiative petitions in

The justices, without comment, refused to review a ruling by Maine's
highest court that had upheld requirements that people who circulate
voter initiative petitions be registered to vote in Maine and be legal
residents of the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar requirements imposed by
Colorado just last month.

In its Jan. 12 ruling, the court limited state regulation of voter
initiatives by striking down as "excessively restrictive of political
speech" several methods Colorado used to police such measures.

The court specifically said, among other things, states may not
require people who circulate petitions to be registered voters.

Mainers for Medical Rights sued a year ago after Secretary of State
Dan Gwadosky ruled it had not filed enough valid signatures to get a
proposal to legalize marijuana for medical purposes on the ballot.

Gwadosky ruled that a second attempt reached the threshold level for
the issue to be put on the ballot in 1999.

James Kilbreth, a lawyer for Mainers for Medical Rights, said Monday
he believed the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to rule because the issue
was rendered moot when the advocacy group got enough petitions.

"We thought it was clear in the Colorado case that one of the
principal restrictions that we were challenging was held to be
unconstitutional," he said Monday of the voter registration
requirement. "That should have led the court to strike down the same
provisions in Maine."

Maine Solicitor Peter Brann said the rulings from the U.S. Supreme
Court were not necessarily contradictory. He noted that the court can
refuse to review cases for a number of reasons.

Therefore, a decision from the Maine supreme court that upheld
requirements that circulators of initiative petitions be residents and
registered voters stands for now, he said.
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