Press Release

Free speech prevails: Supreme Court invalidates election day dress code

Washington, D.C.; June 14, 2018: The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a polling-place dress code in Minnesota, upholding free speech rights across the nation.

“The Supreme Court today vindicated the constitutional protections of every American,” said PLF Senior Attorney J. David Breemer, who argued the case before the Supreme Court in February. “The Court put all government entities on notice—they cannot dictate the terms of personal expression, nor can they designate the arbiters of free speech at their whim.”

The 7-2 decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Andy Cilek, Sue Jeffers, and the Minnesota Voters Alliance. They challenged a state prohibition on wearing apparel to the polls that could be construed as political, even if it’s completely unrelated to any candidate, ballot issue, or political party. In addition, the law allowed election judges to arbitrarily decide what counts as “political.”

The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, protects the right of Americans to peacefully express their political views at the polls. Even in this special place, the Court said that the First Amendment allows people to wear apparel expressing their views, whether that’s supporting the Second Amendment, the #MeToo movement, the AARP, or the ACLU.

The implications of today’s decision stretch far beyond the voting booth. By protecting speech in a sensitive area like the polling place, where other regulations on speech are permissible, the ruling protects expression in other forums as well—including airports, town halls, or college campuses.

“Free speech and the Constitution prevailed today,” Cilek said. “It’s ridiculous that the state would dig in its heels to the point we had to take them to the highest court in the nation. Well, we showed that our right to free speech doesn’t stop at the polling place. Our Framers would be proud.”

The victory is PLF’s tenth victory at the High Court. The case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. More information is available at: pacificlegal.org/voterdresscode.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is the nation’s leading public interest legal organization devoted to vindicating individual liberty. Since 1973, donor-supported PLF has successfully litigated for private property rights, economic liberty, and free speech in the nation’s highest courts.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Collin Callahan at ccallahan@pacificlegal.org.

Case Attorneys

Wen Fa

Attorney

Wen Fa is an attorney at PLF’s national headquarters. He has litigated numerous direct-rep cases dealing with private property, equality under the law, school choice, economic liberty, and the First … ›

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J. David Breemer

Senior Attorney

David (Dave) Breemer developed a passion for liberty while reading classics such as John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government and Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, as he pursued a … ›

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Deborah J. La Fetra

Senior Attorney

Debbie grew up in an economically-striving lower-middle class family and was the first to get a college degree. Watching and learning from her exceptionally hard-working father, and with the support … ›

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Oliver J. Dunford

Attorney

Oliver Dunford joined PLF’s office in Sacramento in March 2017. He litigates across the country to defend and advance individual liberty and the rule of law. Oliver’s cases involve the … ›

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