The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Minnesota’s broad ban on wearing “political apparel” at the polls, ruling the law violates the free speech rights of voters.
The 7-2 ruling said despite any “good intentions” by the state, regulation of such individual expression cannot be reasonably applied because of overly sweeping prohibitions.
A Minnesota voter had sued after being told to remove a “Please I.D. Me” button and Tea Party shirt at his polling place.
He argued such “passive, non-disruptive” expression should be allowed, while the state said the restrictions were a “reasonable, viewpoint-neutral” means to ensure polling integrity and reduce voter coercion.
“Minnesota, like other states, has sought to strike the balance in a way that affords the voter the opportunity to exercise his civic duty in a setting removed from the clamor and din of electioneering,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “While that choice is generally worthy of our respect, Minnesota has not supported its good intentions with a law capable of reasoned application.”
All states have laws prohibiting direct campaigning, solicitation, or advocacy signs…