On February 28, 2018, the Supreme Court heard argument in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, a case involving a Minnesota statute that broadly bans all political apparel at the polling place.
Minnesota Statute § 211B.11 prohibits voters from wearing a “political badge, political button, or other political insignia… at or about the polling place on primary or election day.” State election officials indicated that “political” apparel included “issue oriented material designed to influence or impact voting” or “material promoting a group with recognizable political views.” If a person arrived at a polling place wearing a political item, the election judges were instructed to ask the individual to remove or cover the item. If the individual refused to comply he or she would still be allowed to vote, but the person’s name and address would be recorded for a potential misdemeanor prosecution.
An association of various Minnesota political groups known as Election Integrity Watch (EIW) sued the Secretary of State and county election officials in federal district court, alleging that the statute was invalid--both facially and as-applied--under the First Amendment, and violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause due to selective enforcement. Although the district court initially dismissed all claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed that judgment with respect to EIW’s as-applied First Amendment claim, and remanded the case. On remand, the district court again ruled against EIW, granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants. On a second appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment--but the United States Supreme Court thereafter granted certiorari to determine whether Minnesota Statute Section 211B.11 is facially overbroad under the First Amendment.
To discuss the case, we have Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.
As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speakers.