Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided to hear Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, which involves a First Amendment challenge to Minnesota’s broad ban on political apparel (including shirts featuring the logo of the Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, or other non-partisan organizations that one might associate with a political viewpoint). You can read more about the case on CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Huffington Post.
As lead attorney for the petitioners, I delivered some remarks to reporters at Minnesota Voter Alliance’s press conference this morning in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here is a transcript of the speech:
What a great week for the First Amendment! Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States granted our petition in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. This is a huge case for the First Amendment rights of voters nationwide, regardless of whether they are conservative or liberal.
This case has been going on for quite a while. Our clients, Minnesota Voters Alliance, Andy Cilek, and Sue Jeffers filed a civil rights lawsuit. They filed a federal civil rights lawsuit because the State enacted a policy that bans voters from wearing any t-shirts, buttons, or badges that an election worker associates with a political viewpoint, even if it does not endorse a candidate. A few years ago, the government lawyers in this case told the court of appeals that the State’s objective was to create a polling place in which, besides voting, no other type of expression was allowed. Folks, I hope we take them at their word.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization with 11 appearances before the United States Supreme Court before this one, along with local counsel Erick Kaardal, are representing our clients, as PLF represent all clients, free-of-charge in their case before the Supreme Court. The case is being led by the brilliant, and I dare say, even more handsome, attorney standing before you today.
And I say to you today that we’re not just fighting for voters in Minnesota that want to wear Tea Party shirts that say “liberty or don’t tread on me.” We’re fighting for small business owners in Tennessee who want to wear Chamber of Commerce shirts. We’re fighting for union members in New York who want to wear AFL-CIO shirts. We’re fighting for sportsmen in Texas who want to wear NRA shirts. And we’re fighting for civil rights advocates in Vermont who want to wear shirts that say NAACP. We’re fighting for you, no matter what your views, no matter where you live, for your First Amendment right to free speech.
Many of you from the Minnesota Voters Alliance have been here since this case was filed seven years ago. And we have to wait just a little longer. But I say to you that I know. I know justice can be slow. I know justice can be evasive. But I hope you know this: Justice is coming.