September 14, 2017

PLF files reply in challenge to Minnesota’s ban on political apparel

By Wen Fa Attorney

Today, PLF filed this reply brief asking the Supreme Court to hear an important First Amendment case. Minnesota bans political apparel at polling places across the State. The government interprets “political” broadly. For instance, the ban applies to shirts with classic American phrases such as “Liberty” or “Don’t tread on me,” as long as those phrases appear alongside a tea party logo — no matter how small. And it’s not just voters wearing tea party apparel who are deprived of their First Amendment rights. The ban also applies to voters wearing apparel of the Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, the NAACP, the NRA, and countless other organizations.

Our petition to the Supreme Court presents a First Amendment issue of nationwide importance. The Court will likely decide whether it will take the case in the next few weeks.

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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.

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