Nader loses appeal of '04 ballots in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The state's highest court on Thursday dismissed Ralph Nader's lawsuit against Democrats he had accused of trying to keep him off ballots in Maine and other states during his failed presidential run in 2004.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a judge's dismissal of several counts and ordered that the remaining counts of his lawsuit against the Maine Democratic Party also be dismissed.

Nader, the consumer advocate who ran in 2004 as an independent, had claimed that the Democratic Party and allies orchestrated a nationwide effort against him using illegal and malicious tactics. Many Democrats blame Nader for siphoning away votes in an election won by Republican George W. Bush.

Nader's lawyer, Oliver Hall, said Thursday that he'll need to review his options before deciding whether to ask the court to reconsider or to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We're surprised and disappointed by this decision," Hall said.

Stephen Langsdorf, who represented the Maine Democratic Party, said the state supreme court ruling represented the end of the line for Nader.

"This ruling finally puts the 2004 election to bed," said Langsdorf, who said it's highly unlikely that the court would revisit the issue.

The lawsuit has been winding through the courts since 2009, when Nader chose to sue in Maine after the statute of limitations expired on Nader's lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Nader contended the Democrats filed 29 complaints in 18 states and Washington, D.C., often accusing the Nader campaign of fraud without any evidence or for innocent, small technical mistakes on petitions.

The Democratic Party said it had a constitutional right to challenge Nader's efforts to get on the ballot.

Nader and his 2004 running mate, the late Peter Camejo, ultimately appeared on the ballot as independents in 34 states, including Maine, and collected only three-tenths of 1 percent of the nation's popular vote.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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