Supreme Court Invalidates Minnesota Ban on Political Apparel in Polling Places, but Reaffirms that States Can Still Bar Messages that Mislead Voters

June 14, 2018

New York, NY - Today, in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Minnesota law that bans all “political” apparel at the polls is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, but also reaffirmed that states “may prohibit messages intended to mislead voters about voting requirements and procedures.” The plaintiffs in Mansky had been prohibited from wearing Tea Party paraphernalia and “Please I.D. Me” buttons to the polls to protest the fact that Minnesota does not require voters to present a photo I.D. in order to vote.

The Brennan Center for Justice issued the following statement:

“While the Court ruled that Minnesota went too far in trying to bar all ‘political’ apparel from polling places, it reaffirmed the core principle that states can bar misleading messages, including about whether identification is required to vote,” said Daniel Weiner, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy program. “Notwithstanding the other aspects of its decision, the Court’s acknowledgment of the state’s interest in voter protection is a win for our democracy.”

The Brennan Center submitted an amicus brief in the case on behalf of itself, The League of Women Voters of the United States, and the League of Women Voters Minnesota, arguing that Minnesota has a compelling interest in prohibiting apparel like the “Please I.D. Me” buttons to the extent it is intended to mislead voters and poll workers into believing identification is required to vote.

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