Political fashion – whether it be Obama dresses in 2008, anti-Muslim ban wares, or t-shirts promoting feminism – is all the rage on the runway. Meanwhile, in D.C., the Supreme Court’s nine justices engaged in a discussion about politics-inspired fashion on Wednesday as they heard arguments over a Minnesota law that bars voters from wearing politically-charged garments and accessories to the polls.
Amid the arguments over apparel – during which time “almost every one of the justices had some hypothetical article of clothing to talk about as they explored the issue of free speech at polling places and whether various clothing items or accessories could be prohibited, per the AP – at least a few of the justices suggested support for some form of polling place restrictions. Chief Justice John Roberts, for instance, noted the “important civic obligation” of the voting progress and seemed to see merit voters being able to enjoy “peace and quiet without being bombarded by another campaign display.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked about the legality of a #MeToo pin, while Justice Elena Kagan wanted to know about clothing that says “Resist” or “Make America Great Again.” Justice Samuel Alito rattled of a long list of garments and accessories that might be impacted by the law, such as a National Rifle Association t-shirt, shirts with the text of the First and Second Amendments, and a shirt with a rainbow flag.
As noted by the AP, “Most states have laws restricting what voters can wear to the polls, but Minnesota’s law is one of the broadest. It bars voters from casting a ballot wearing clothing with the name of a candidate or political party or related to an issue on the ballot. But Minnesota voters also can’t wear clothing promoting a group with recognizable political views. That means no tea party T-shirts, AFL-CIO hats or MoveOn.org buttons.”
Opponents of Minnesota’s law say it is simply too broad, whereas state legislation argue that is is a reasonable restriction for the sole purpose of maintaining order at polling places and preventing voter intimidation.
A decision in the case, 16-1435 Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, is expected by the end of June.