February 27, 2018

Wednesday: PLF argues First Amendment case before the Supreme Court

By Wen Fa Attorney

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear PLF’s First Amendment challenge in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. The case involves a Minnesota law that allows the government to fine voters just for wearing a t-shirt with a logo of a “political” group. As the government itself noted, the law goes far beyond a ban on active campaigning at the polling place. In fact, it goes even beyond a ban on t-shirts saying “vote for Hilary” or “vote for Trump.” Minnesota’s law bans any shirt featuring the logo of the Tea Party, AFL-CIO, Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, and countless other groups that are associated with some political viewpoint.

What’s more, broad and open-ended laws like Minnesota’s allow poll workers to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint. A liberal poll worker might be all the more willing to stop someone wearing a Pacific Legal Foundation shirt. A conservative poll worker might be enticed to write down the name of other voters wearing shirts featuring the logo of the ACLU.

The law threatens the First Amendment rights of everyone. PLF defends the First Amendment for all— from union members who want to wear AFL-CIO t-shirts to businessmen who want to wear Chamber of Commerce t-shirts to civil rights advocates who want to wear shirts that say NAACP. We will ask the Supreme Court to vindicate the free speech rights of everyone. Beyond, we will continue to defend liberty and justice for all.

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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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