Politicking At The Polling Place: Minnesota at SCOTUS

There is a case being decided right now by the Supreme Court of the United States, about whether or not people can wear clothing or adornments that express political messages at the polling places.

Minnesota has, it appears, a fairly strict rule, and it is being challenged. The Supreme Court seems poised to decide against the Minnesota law, at least in part. You can read about it here, and it is all very interesting.

But in fact, the whole thing is BS, in a way that I doubt anyone is telling the Supreme Court. Here’s why.

Minnesota authorities suggest, as an example of how the law works, that a person could wear a rainbow t-shirt at a polling place, unless a gay rights issue was on the ballot. That is just one example of where the line between what is appropriate vs. not seems movable.

But what about this. What about the fact that when there is a US Senator or a President on the ballot, that we are, de facto, voting on abortion rights? Elections matter, it is said, for a number of reasons, but that phrase is most often invoked when the SCOTUS takes away some basic right, or otherwise makes a bone-headed decision (like Citizens United or any number of gun related outcome and opinions). Who is in the Senate and who is in the White House determine the outcome of key issues over which Americans fight in the political arena. Certain issues are perennial. They are always on the ballot.

If this is true, and it is true, then every election that involves a US Senator or President involves the issue of abortion. Yet, just as a rainbow may be taken as supportive of LGBTQ rights, anti-abortion t-shirts or posters would be supportive of one side on the abortion issue.

And, in Minnesota, some polling places are in churches. In some of these churches, in order to get from the entry door to the voting place, you have to talk down a gauntlet of anti-abortion posters. (This has been addressed in some cases, but in others, not. See this.)

Dear Supreme Court: A violation of the Minnesota law is practiced normally in Minnesota, and it is allowed because Minnesotans will never speak against a church, because one simply does not do that. You need to ask for a friend of the court briefing from an organization like Minnesota Atheists for your decision to not be, in the end, foolish.

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4 thoughts on “Politicking At The Polling Place: Minnesota at SCOTUS

  1. The Minnesota law is overbroad and should be struck down.

    What next – no red shirts, no blue shirts because they are associated with a party.

    No donkey graphic, no elephant graphic.

    It is just ridiculous.

    I hope it does go down.

    It is enough to just ban buttons which have a name on them (like Trump or Clinton).

    They should have written the law way more tightly and maybe they will on the next go around.

  2. A little bit outside the polling places, you have people setting up shop handing out sample ballots.
    A T-shirt is going to change people’s minds?

  3. Re MikeN: “A T-shirt is going to change people’s minds?”

    I sincerely hope not. That would be a sad commentary on Americans wouldn’t it? In fact, I think an overtly partisan message carried by wearing apparel and such would have about the same effect as a bumper sticker: Please those who already agree and piss off those who don’t.

  4. In our home if no one else wanted the use of our Phillips transistor radio on a Sunday morning, it defaulted to me as the youngest sibling. Thus it was I used to listen to the Rev. Billy Graham’s half-hour radio program “Hour of Decision.” What I still remember about this program is that at the end of each program Evangelist Graham would urge his listeners to “Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota. That’s all the address you need.” I always thought it strange that the words Minneapolis, Minnesota were also written on the bag of flour which was in the corner of the kitchen. Graham’s “Hour of Decision” first hit the airwaves in 1950 in Minnesota and in later years was heard around the world in several languages. Other religious programs on the radio around that time were “Morning Devotions”, “Daily Word”, “Hour of Power”, “Bringing Christ to the Nations”, “Christ is the Answer”, and many others I am sure. Not to be disrespectful but some radio preachers used to say extraordinary things. One guy used to say if you wanted to be healed just touch your radio while he prayed. Rishi Singh

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