Maine Supreme Court rules people’s veto effort to overturn NECEC transmission line unconstitutional

Opponents of the CMP corridor say they are considering ‘all options’ after the Maine Supreme Court ruled a referendum aiming to block the project is unconstitutional. The decision means the ballot question is unlikely to go before voters in November. “The law court just disenfranchised 66,000 Mainers who signed our petition,” said Tom Saviello, a former state senator and activist with the No CMP Corridor group. He and other opponents repeatedly said Thursday, the fight is far from over. “Five unelected officials took our right to vote away. That is very sad,” said Saviello, referring to the justices. In a unanimous decision, the justices sent the matter to a lower court, asking for a judgment that shows, “the initiative fails to meet the constitutional requirements for inclusion on the ballot because it exceeds the scope of the people’s legislative powers.”“We felt very confident in our position given the briefs and reply briefs and the information that was provided within the court and we’re satisfied with the answer and their conclusion that this was an unconstitutional referendum,” said Thorn Dickinson, President and CEO of the New England Clean Energy Connect project. Dickinson is now looking toward the next phase of the approval process. “The next step is the Army Corps of Engineers, which we’re hoping to get soon,” Dickinson said. The ruling comes after Avangrid, CMP’s parent company, sued the office of Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap after approving the people’s veto to appear on the ballot. Dunlap says it’s better this decision arrived now than after Election Day. “If it were to be ratified by voters and people felt that they had done something that they believed in and then have the court rule this way, I think it would’ve been a much more profound reaction than what we see today. I think it’s better that we know ahead of time,” said Secretary Dunlap. Dunlap said earlier this summer, while the ballot question may be unconstitutional, voters should have the chance to weigh in. Some corridor opponents wish that was made clearer to them after collecting signatures. “I just wish that when we put our question in with the secretary of state that he had stepped up to us and said, ‘this is an unconstitutional question’ because we would’ve fixed it,” Saviello said. Secretary Dunlap says it’s important to remember this phase of the legal battle is not yet over. There is a five-day period where a motion for reconsideration could be filed.

Opponents of the CMP corridor say they are considering ‘all options’ after the Maine Supreme Court ruled a referendum aiming to block the project is unconstitutional.

The decision means the ballot question is unlikely to go before voters in November.

Advertisement

“The law court just disenfranchised 66,000 Mainers who signed our petition,” said Tom Saviello, a former state senator and activist with the No CMP Corridor group.

He and other opponents repeatedly said Thursday, the fight is far from over.

“Five unelected officials took our right to vote away. That is very sad,” said Saviello, referring to the justices.

In a unanimous decision, the justices sent the matter to a lower court, asking for a judgment that shows, “the initiative fails to meet the constitutional requirements for inclusion on the ballot because it exceeds the scope of the people’s legislative powers.”

“We felt very confident in our position given the briefs and reply briefs and the information that was provided within the court and we’re satisfied with the answer and their conclusion that this was an unconstitutional referendum,” said Thorn Dickinson, President and CEO of the New England Clean Energy Connect project.

Dickinson is now looking toward the next phase of the approval process.

“The next step is the Army Corps of Engineers, which we’re hoping to get soon,” Dickinson said.

The ruling comes after Avangrid, CMP’s parent company, sued the office of Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap after approving the people’s veto to appear on the ballot.

Dunlap says it’s better this decision arrived now than after Election Day.

“If it were to be ratified by voters and people felt that they had done something that they believed in and then have the court rule this way, I think it would’ve been a much more profound reaction than what we see today. I think it’s better that we know ahead of time,” said Secretary Dunlap.

Dunlap said earlier this summer, while the ballot question may be unconstitutional, voters should have the chance to weigh in.

Some corridor opponents wish that was made clearer to them after collecting signatures.

“I just wish that when we put our question in with the secretary of state that he had stepped up to us and said, ‘this is an unconstitutional question’ because we would’ve fixed it,” Saviello said.

Secretary Dunlap says it’s important to remember this phase of the legal battle is not yet over.

There is a five-day period where a motion for reconsideration could be filed.