U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday debated the legality of a Minnesota law barring voters from wearing political apparel at polling places, struggling to draw the line between protecting free speech and preventing voter intimidation. Minnesota’s law, challenged by conservative activists, prohibits badges, buttons, hats, T-shirts or other items with overly political messages inside polling sites during elections. At least nine other states have similar laws. During a one-hour argument before the nine-member court, several justices peppered attorneys on both sides with hypothetical examples of apparel, challenging them to say whether they would be acceptable in a voting site or not. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wondered about “Make America Great Again” and “Resist,” popular slogans for supporters or opponents of President Donald Trump.
David Breemer, the challengers’ lawyer who argued that the law violates the guarantee of free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, said both slogans should be protected as “legitimate speech” allowed in a polling place.
Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy then asked him, “Why should there be any speech there at all? … You’re there to vote.”