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Supreme Court to consider political apparel at the polling place

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up a case concerning a Minnesota law that bans voters from wearing political badges, buttons or other political insignia at the polling place.

The case is brought by Andy Cilek, a Minnesota voter and executive director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, who was temporarily blocked from voting because he was wearing a T-shirt that stated “Don’t Tread on Me” at a polling place.

Lawyers for Cilek say that nine other states have nearly identical political apparel bans.

“Although this Court has permitted campaign-free zones that prohibit campaign materials and active solicitation, it has never endorsed a ban on all political speech,” lawyers for the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation who are representing Cilek, argued in court papers.

Lawyers for the state urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the case and leave in place a lower court opinion that went against Cilek.

“The court of appeals’ legal conclusion that the interior of a polling place is a non-public forum in which speech restrictions are constitutional as long as they are reasonable and viewpoint neutral is the same conclusion reached by every court that has analyzed the issue, ” wrote Daniel P. Rogan of the Hennepin County Attorney’s office.