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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT Reporter of Decisions
Decision: 2002 ME 161
Argued: September 5, 2002
Decided: October 29, 2002
Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA, ALEXANDER, CALKINS, and
PEMBROKE SCHOOL COMMITTEE
[¶1] Donald Veader appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior Court (Washington County, Mead. J.) granting the Pembroke School Committee a permanent injunction prohibiting Veader's service on the Committee and declaring his seat vacant. Veader contends that the Superior Court erred in finding that 20-A M.R.S.A. § 1002(4) (Supp. 2001), which prohibits his service on the Committee while another school within the same school union employs his spouse, does not violate his and the voters' constitutional rights. Although Veader has standing to assert the constitutional rights of Pembroke voters, section 1002(4) does not unconstitutionally restrict either their or his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech, association, and equal protection.
[¶2] Because candidates' and voters' rights are inextricably bound, Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780, 786 (1983) (citing Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134, 143 (1972)), Veader has standing to assert the Pembroke voters' constitutional rights. See Mancuso v. Taft, 476 F.2d 187, 190 (1st Cir. 1973). Analyzing section 1002(4) within the framework established by the United States Supreme Court in Anderson, however, the injury to Veader's and the Pembroke voters' rights is minimal, the state's interest in maintaining public confidence in elected officials by eliminating conflicts of interest is significant, and no less restrictive alternatives will resolve the conflict of interest presented. See Anderson, 460 U.S. at 789. Thus, section 1002(4) survives Veader's First Amendment challenge.
[¶3] With respect to Veader's Fourteenth Amendment challenge, section 1002(4) does not burden a suspect class or fundamental right, and the statute is rationally related to the legitimate public interest of preventing conflicts of interest and maintaining public trust in elected officials. See Kentucky Dep't of Educ. v. Risner, 913 S.W.2d 327, 329 (Ky. 1996). It is neither overly broad, nor underinclusive and draws a rational distinction between spouses, whose finances are typically interdependent, and other family members or colleagues. See id.
[¶4] Injunctive relief is appropriate. See Walsh v. Johnston, 608 A.2d 776, 788 (Me. 1992).
The entry is:
Attorney for plaintiff:
Bruce W. Smith, Esq., (orally)
Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon
P. O. Box 9781
Portland, ME 04104-5081
Attorney for defendant:
Donald F. Brown, Esq., (orally)
36 Penn Plaza
Bangor, ME 04401
Attorneys for intervenor State of Maine:
G. Steven Rowe, Attorney General
Sarah A. Forster, Asst. Attorney General (orally)
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0006