The U.S. Supreme Court eased the rules Thursday for what Americans can wear when they go to vote, striking down restrictions in one state that banned voters from wearing clothes with the name of a candidate or political party when they enter the polling place.
In a victory for free speech, the high court in a 7-2 ruling overturned a law in the Midwestern state of Minnesota that barred clothing representing recognizable political views. The state had said the law was aimed at keeping order at polling places and preventing voter intimidation among partisans.
In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said that while the state’s intentions were “generally worthy of our respect, Minnesota has not supported its good intentions with a law capable of reasoned application.”
Nine other states have laws similar to Minnesota’s. The Supreme Court returned the case to a lower court for consideration of what restrictions might be reasonable.
The Minnesota case stemmed from a 2010 incident in which a voter showed up at a polling place wearing a T-shirt supporting the conservative Tea Party movement with the words “Don’t Tread on Me,” as well as a button stating, “Please I.D. Me.”
The man was allowed to vote, but sued to overturn the law.