A literal free speech case over 'Don't Tread on Me'

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Gasden flagA free speech case is going before the U.S. Supreme Court over a state law that forbids political speech.

A Minnesota law that forbids voters from wearing "any political badge, political button, or other political insignias” is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.

"The opportunity for this law to suppress self-expression in polling places on election days is obvious,” says attorney Dave Breemer of Pacific Legal Foundation, one of the organizations arguing before the Supreme Court.

“The law covers all partisan references, issue oriented material, and all groups," he continues. "Any references like that cannot be brought in the polling place.”

The case began in 2010 when tea party supporter Andy Cilek went to vote in Hennepin County, Minnesota. He was told he could not wear a t-shirt with an image of the iconic Gadsden flag with the "Don't tread on me" slogan.

"I didn't speak to anyone,” Cilek said of the incident. "I didn't question anything. I simply approached the table and was told by an election judge, You can't vote unless you remove your t-shirt."

Breemer adds there is no evidence that any polling place has ever been disrupted by these kinds of clothing.

"It's purely a suppressive measure that inhibits free political association and expression which is the entire purpose of the First Amendment," he says. "That is going to be the essence of our case and our argument before the Supreme Court."

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