Supreme Court Hearing Minnesota Polling Place Apparel Case

In this Feb. 16, 2018, photo, Andy Cilek poses with a Tea Party shirt at his home in Eden Prairie, Minn. Cilek was one of two voters who defied elections officials after he was asked to cover up a tea-party shirt and button. Photo: AP/Jim Mone
In this Feb. 16, 2018, photo, Andy Cilek poses with a Tea Party shirt at his home in Eden Prairie, Minn. Cilek was one of two voters who defied elections officials after he was asked to cover up a tea-party shirt and button.

February 28, 2018 11:59 AM

A Minnesota law that bars residents from wearing political clothing at the polls — from Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats to Democratic Party T-shirts and union buttons — is being debated at the Supreme Court.

Opponents say the law is overly broad. But Minnesota has defended it as a reasonable restriction that keeps order at polling places and prevents voter intimidation.

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RELATED: Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Minnesotan's Case for Political Apparel at the Polls

Other states have similar laws, so the case being argued before the justices Wednesday has the potential to have an impact beyond Minnesota.

The sides disagree about which states have laws like Minnesota's, which says a "political badge, political button or other political insignia may not be worn at or about the polling place on primary or election day." But both sides identify about 10 states with similar laws.

Minnesota elections officials have interpreted the state's law to mean voters can't wear anything to the polls with the name of a candidate or political party or supporting or opposing an issue on the ballot. They have said it also means voters can't wear clothing promoting a group with recognizable political views, such as the tea party, AFL-CIO or MoveOn.org. Other states have narrower laws banning "campaign" apparel, clothing that supports a specific candidate or ballot issue.

RELATED: High Court Asked to Iron out Polling Place Clothing Dispute

Attorney Daniel Rogan, who is arguing the case for Minnesota, says he doesn't know of anyone ever issued a fine allowed under the Minnesota law.

The case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, 16-1435.
 

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The Associated Press

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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