Minnesota must heed the Supreme Court’s ruling
Yesterday, PLF submitted a letter urging Minnesota to ensure that its election officials are enforcing the law within the confines of the Supreme Court’s decision in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.
In June, the Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota statute that had prohibited wearing any “political badge, political button, or other political insignia” in polling places on Election Day. While recognizing Minnesota’s interest in maintaining order at the polls, the Court held that Minnesota cannot seek to further this interest through a sweeping ban on political apparel without any sensible basis for determining just what counts as political. The statute’s vague language, combined with Minnesota’s haphazard interpretation and enforcement, worked a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
PLF was proud to represent the plaintiffs before the Supreme Court in that case. Accordingly, we were troubled by reports coming out of Minnesota’s primary elections on August 14th which indicated that some election officials continued to enforce a broad interpretation of the policy. In fact, it is apparent that they were not even aware of the Court’s decision in Minnesota Voters Alliance.
PLF is confident that Minnesota wishes to avoid violating its voters’ First Amendment Rights, and that our letter will prompt new training for election officials advising them of the Supreme Court’s decision. After all, a lack of guidance for poll workers is one of the flaws noted in the Court’s opinion. We trust that voters across Minnesota will be able to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights this November.
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Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a polling-place dress code in Minnesota, upholding free speech rights across the nation and protecting the right of Americans to peacefully express their political views at the polls.
PLF represented Minnesota voters, including Andy Cilek, who showed up at his polling place wearing a t-shirt that read “Don’t tread on me.” State law bans voters from wearing any “political” apparel at a polling place. This includes any t-shirt, button, or other items that could be construed as political, or even organizations that take political positions such as the AFL-CIO or NRA. A poll worker not only prevented Andy from voting for five hours, but also took down his name for possible prosecution.Read more