Supreme Court Rules Minnesota Cannot Ban Political Clothing at Polls

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, in a 7-2 vote, that Minnesota cannot prohibit voters from wearing political apparel to the polls. In 2010, Andy Cilek arrived at a Minnesota polling station wearing a popular Tea Party T-shirt, reading “Don’t Tread on Me,” and a button that said “Please I.D. Me.” His apparel violated contemporaneous Minnesota law, which stated that a person could not wear a “political badge, political button, or other political insignia or about the polling place” on Election Day. After an election worker told him that he would have to remove or cover the messaging before voting, Cilek sued. The court sided with Cilek, determining that although maintaining decorum in polling places was a “permissible objective,” Minnesota’s prohibition of politically motivated clothing was too broad and vague, and therefore violated Cilek’s First Amendment rights. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that “if a State wishes to set its polling places apart as areas free of partisan discord, it must employ a more discernible approach than the one offered by Minnesota here.”