Another Free Speech Victory! Supreme Court Rules Minnesota Dress Code for Voters Illegal

Written by Kevin Fobbs on June 16, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in favor of restoring free political speech to voters. According to the Chief Justice John Roberts, the state of Minnesota’s political apparel ban, which has long stymied conservative voter activism, violated the Free Speech Clause. Minnesota has not been the only blue state to use political badge, political button, or anything bearing political insignia as a way to hamper voter day efforts of GOP and conservative or Christian voters. How has it been used?

Every voter who went to the polls on election day has witnessed the hyper vigilance of liberal poll watchers. These paid liberal activists would verbally, and sometimes with implied force, restrict conservative voters from casting their vote at the polls if they were inside a polling place on Election Day wearing political badges or political buttons. Meanwhile the liberal voters were not prevented from casting ballots who displayed numerous political buttons and badges.

Was this a dubious and tolerated double standard? Obviously!

Conservatives have reason to feel excited over this decision’s ruling and liberals will probably be dismayed because of a 7-2 decision, reached by the court. It means even liberal justices found the century-old Minnesota law that barred voters from wearing politically affiliated clothing at polling places odious.

The state ban was not only over-reaching in how it was enforced by polling place officials, it was extremely vague and confusing. For example, the clothing ban forbade all clothing that spoke to an issue on the ballot or promoted a group with recognizable political views. One clear targeted example included a National Rifle Association T-shirt or one with the text of the Second Amendment.

In effect a voter in Minnesota could not openly profess a support of the Second Amendment at the polling place without being subject to a fine or petty misdemeanor charge. The impact of this chilling enforcement by the state was to criminalize freedom of speech for over 100 years.

Chief Justice John Roberts emphasized in the court’s decision that any election day law has to be guided by workable and objective standards. He stressed, “Without them, an election judge’s own politics may shape his views on what counts as ‘political.’ And if voters experience or witness episodes of unfair or inconsistent enforcement of the ban, the State’s interest in maintaining a polling place free of distraction and disruption would be undermined by the very measure intended to further it.”

Tea Party voters fully understand how a liberal government cartel can misuse and abuse its power to restrict voters from utilizing its freedom of speech rights. The IRS official Lois Lerner, who illegally prevented over 200 Tea Party organizations from receiving IRS federal tax-exempt status, is one stunning example of Democrat and liberal abuse of power to restrict freedom of speech.

Justice Roberts pointed out in the court decision that the Minnesota broad definition of the law could be used to ban a t-shirt that simply said “Vote!” or a t-shirt saying “Support our Troops” or “#MeToo”.

The case was brought to the court by Andrew Cilek, who went to a polling place in 2010 wearing a shirt with a Tea Party logo and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” Election workers initially stopped him from casting a ballot, but eventually let him vote, according to the UPI.

photo credit: L. Allen Brewer Campaign Buttons via photopin (license)

Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs has more than 35 years of wide-ranging experience as a community and tenant organizer, Legal Services outreach program director, public relations consultant, business executive, gubernatorial and presidential appointee, political advisor, widely published writer, and national lecturer. Kevin is co-chair and co-founder of AC-3 (American-Canadian Conservative Coalition) that focuses on issues on both sides of the border between the two countries.