In a 7-2 ruling the Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota law than bans all political apparel at polling places on Thursday.
In a 7-2 ruling, the court said the state law violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
Joining with the majority Chief Justice John Roberts said the law failed to define what apparel is “political,” a word he said can be expansive.
“The American Civil Liberties Union, the AARP, the World Wildlife Fund, and Ben & Jerry’s all have stated positions on matters of public concern,” Roberts said. “If the views of those groups align or conflict with the position of a candidate or party on the ballot, does that mean that their insignia are banned?”
“Under a literal reading of those definitions a button or T-shirt merely imploring others to ‘Vote!’ could qualify.”
Roberts said the court understood that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting electioneering in and around polling places on Election Day and that wasn’t being questioned in this case.
Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch joined Roberts in the majority.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Stephen Breyer dissented.
The case case was brought by the Minnesota Voters Alliance on behalf of Andrew Cilek, the founder and executive director of the group after he was turned away from the polls on two occasions for wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt. He was ultimately allowed to vote after giving his information to an election judge for referral to authorities.
Minnesota argued the century-old dress code law is necessary to prevent voter intimidation and maintain the integrity of the election process.