Supreme Court hearing polling place apparel case

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.

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.

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.

© 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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