Does Minnesota Statute Section 211B.11(1), which prohibits individuals from wearing “political badges, political buttons, or political insignia” in the polling place, violate the First Amendment?
In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether Minnesota’s Statute section 211B.11(1) political-apparel ban at polling sites violates the First Amendment. Petitioners Minnesota Voters Alliance, et al. (“MVA”) contend that the statute jeopardizes the right of voters to peacefully express themselves. According to MVA, the statute’s vague use of the word “political” allows poll workers to arbitrarily discriminate against voters wearing anything arguably political. MVA contends, under a strict-scrutiny analysis, that the ban on speech is not narrowly tailored to the government’s interest in promoting voting decorum and that there is no government interest that justifies a ban on all political apparel. Respondents Joe Mansky, et al. (“Mansky”) counter that the statute and its application have only prohibited political apparel that, from the perspective of a reasonable person, is related to ballot issues on election day in order to ensure that Minnesotans have the right to vote freely, without undue influence. Mansky maintains that the non-public forum analysis is the proper test to determine the statute’s constitutionality, and that the statute is reasonable and viewpoint neutral in light of the government’s goal to have polling sites focus on voting. This case will clarify the scope of the right to vote versus the right to self-expression, as well as analyze the rights of individuals when participating in democratic deliberation.
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
Is Minnesota Statute Section 211B.11(1), which broadly bans all political apparel at the polling place, facially overbroad under the First Amendment?
Section 211B.11, entitled “Election Day Prohibitions,” of the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act regulates behavior “near polling places.” Minn. Stat.
- Greg Stohr, Political T-Shirts at Polling Place Get U.S. Supreme Court Hearing, Bloomberg Politics (Nov. 13, 2017).
- Barbara L. Jones, U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Minnesota Voting Case, Minnesota Lawyer (Nov. 15, 2017).