Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Election Law
  • Date Filed: June 14, 2018
  • Case #: 16-1435
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, THOMAS, GINSBURG, ALITO, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER, J., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The statutory prohibition of certain apparel in polling places during Election Day serves the permissible objective of limiting distraction and partisan discord for voters exercising their civic duty, but such statutes must articulate a determinate scope to allow for reasoned application.

Respondents turned Petitioners away from polling places for wearing political apparel in violation of Minnesota Statute §211B.11(1). Petitioners raised facial and as-applied First Amendment challenges against the statute. The district court granted the Respondents’ motion to dismiss. The Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the facial challenge and reversed dismissal of the as-applied challenge, affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the Respondents after remand. The United States Supreme Court granted review of the facial First Amendment challenge, first identifying polling places on Election Day as nonpublic forums that allowed for more flexibility when crafting rules limiting speech. The Court reasoned that prohibiting certain apparel served the permissible objective of limiting partisan discord while creating an area of peaceful contemplation for voters, because polling places serve the special purpose of casting a vote, which exists as a significant civic obligation and moment of choice. However, the Court reasoned that Minnesota Statute §211B.11(1) still failed under the nonpublic forum standard, because Respondents failed to articulate a determinate scope that would allow for reasoned application of the statute. Accordingly, the Court held that Minnesota Statute §211B.11(1)’s indeterminate prohibition and entailing incapacity for reasoned application made it facially unconstitutional. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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