By a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an overly broad (PDF) and vague a Minnesota law prohibiting voters from wearing political clothing and accessories at polling places. “A rule whose fair enforcement requires an election judge to maintain a mental index of the platforms and positions of every candidate and party on the ballot is not reasonable,” said Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority. “Laws proscribing displays (including apparel) in more lucid terms” are permissible, Roberts wrote, specifically citing Texas law as = an example.

Section 61.010(a), Election Code prohibits the wearing of a “badge, insignia, emblem or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election” in, or within 100 feet of, a polling place. Bans such as these “serve a permissible objective” provided that “the line the state draws must be reasonable.”

The Minnesota law in question goes beyond the Texas law by prohibiting “issue-oriented material designed to influence or impact voting” and “material promoting a group with recognizable political views.” The plaintiff in this case was turned away from the polls for wearing a “Please I.D. Me” button on a T-shirt bearing the words “Don’t Tread on Me” and the logo of a Tea Party group.

In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that the Court should have allowed the state’s highest court the “opportunity to pass upon it,” a path that “likely would obviate the hypothetical line-drawing problems that form the basis of the Court’s decision today.”

Early voting is underway for the CD27 special election. In Victoria Co., 524 people have voted in person on Wednesday or Thursday, the first two days of early voting, and 1,298 ballots by mail have been returned. In Nueces Co., 1,249 people voted in person during the two days and another 2,255 had returned ballots by mail.

Meanwhile, early voting continues for local runoff elections being held on June 23, including for a pair of Del Rio council seats.

Saturday is runoff Election Day in several municipalities and other local jurisdictions. We do not plan to provide live coverage during the night but will instead provide a summary of top results on Sunday.

CD32: The Human Rights Campaign endorsed challenger Colin Allred (D).

Plainview: The city council accepted the resignation of council member John Gatica, who moved to another city, and ordered a September 22 special election to succeed him.

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