The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has scheduled oral arguments for April 26 on an appeal by the backers of a failed petition drive to put a controversial York County casino question on the November ballot.

The high court had to fast-track the appeal, since by state law it must issue a ruling within 30 days of an April 7 decision by Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy. The Murphy decision found that the Secretary of State’s Office had correctly determined that the Horseracing Jobs Fairness campaign had failed to submit the 62,123 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Attorneys for the casino campaign and for the Secretary of State’s Office now must submit written arguments to the high court. Oral arguments on the appeal will be heard at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta at 2 p.m. on April 26.

Attorney Bruce Merrill, who represents casino proponents, contends in the appeal that Murphy made a legal mistake in her decision and that it “cannot be reconciled” with her ruling in another petition drive seeking to legalize marijuana. In the marijuana campaign, Murphy overruled Dunlap’s decision that its supporters, too, had failed to collect enough valid signatures.

In the casino campaign case, Murphy ruled that Horseracing Jobs Fairness failed to produce enough evidence to prove that election officials erred when invalidating 55,776 of the 91,294 signatures submitted for certification in February.

Most of the disputed petitions were invalidated because of questions about the signatures of notaries. Maine law requires a notary to sign each petition after taking an oath from the person who circulated the petition that all the signatures were made in his or her presence by registered voters.

Dunlap rejected many of the petitions on the grounds that the signatures of notaries on petitions varied from notary signatures that were on file in the Secretary of State’s Office. The majority of the petitions were notarized by Stavros Mendros, a former Lewiston legislator whose company was hired to collect signatures for the petition campaigns.