March 13, 2010

Supreme Court to consider two cases from Maine in this term

— The Associated Press

BANGOR — Two cases from Maine will be up for oral arguments when the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term today.

It's unusual for the nation's high court to accept even one case from Maine per term, let alone two. Making it even more unusual is that oral arguments on the cases will be heard on the court's opening day.

The first case stems from a lawsuit filed by three Mainers accusing Altria Group Inc. of deceptive and unfair advertising regarding their ''light'' cigarettes. The suit claimed the tobacco company's marketing practices violated Maine's Unfair Trade Practices Law.

The question before the Supreme Court is whether state-law challenges to advertising claims about tar and nicotine yields are pre-empted by federal law.

In the second case, the Supreme Court is being asked to resolve a dispute over a labor union's use of fees paid by nonunion employees to finance the labor organization's court battles in other states.

Twenty state workers in Maine challenged the expenditure by the Service Employees International Union, which bargains on their behalf. The nonmembers are required to pay a service fee for the union's collective bargaining efforts and contract administration.

The cases are Altria Group Inc. v. Good and Locke v. Karass.

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