Maine Superior Court: Referendum challenging agency action will remain on November ballot

On June 29th, Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren decided not to remove a Maine ballot referendum from the November 2020 ballot that challenges a state agency decision to give permission to build a high-voltage power line. Opponents of the referendum argued in court that the ballot measure violates the separation of powers provision found in Article III of the Maine Constitution.
Warren ruled “that the lawsuit raises important questions about the separation of powers under the Maine Constitution but said the ‘substantive challenges to the validity of the proposed initiative may not be reviewed at this time,’” according to a report from _Associated Press_.
The opponents argued that the measure would be an exercise of executive authority by reversing an agency order and of judicial authority by overturning a related court decision. They claim that Maine’s constitutional referendum provisions do not give the people of the state authority to exercise the powers of those branches of government.
According to Article IV of the Maine Constitution, citizens may exercise the legislative power through direct initiative. A company associated with the power line project argued that this particular initiative goes beyond an exercise of legislative authority by the people because “it would enact no law, would repeal no law, and would amend no law.”
In its report, Associated Press said, “Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap agrees on the constitutional issue but proposed keeping the matter on the ballot as an advisory referendum.”
Additional reading: