November 16, 2017

PLF’s First Amendment battle heads to the U.S. Supreme Court

By PLF’s First Amendment battle heads to the U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced that it will hear a First Amendment challenge to Minnesota’s sweeping, speech-stifling restrictions on what can be worn while voting. Represented free of charge by Pacific Legal Foundation, concerned residents like Andy Cilek are targeting the state’s unconstitutional prohibition on wearing anything to the polls that might be interpreted as even slightly ideological, even if it has no relation to any candidate, ballot measure, or political party.

The case challenges a Minnesota law that forbids voters from wearing any “political badge, political button, or other political insignia.” Officials have interpreted this open-ended language to cover messages that merely express a general social or philosophical outlook. As the government itself noted at oral argument, Minnesota’s broad political apparel ban encompasses any shirt with the logo of the Chamber of Commerce or the AFL-CIO.

In this week’s episode of PLF’s Courting Liberty podcast, hear from case attorney Wen Fa and client Andy Cilek as they break down the importance and gravity of their fight for free speech.

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Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

On February 28, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in our case challenging a Minnesota election law that literally strips free speech rights from the backs of voters. A Minnesota state law prohibits voters from wearing “political” apparel at a polling place. This includes any t-shirt, button, or other item that identifies any political issue and even any organization that is known to take positions on political issues. Voters who wear AFL-CIO or NRA caps are told they must remove them before they can enter the polling place and vote. If they refuse, election officials take their names for possible prosecution and penalties up to $5,000. Lower courts upheld this law on the theory that government can ban all expression, besides voting, at a polling place.

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