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As I See It

Dress codes at the ballots, how far is too far?



Just what kind of clothing constitutes free speech? That is a question the Supreme Court is trying to decide. The case centers on a Minnesota man who wants the high court to overturn his state’s ban on political clothing at the polling place on election day. He was told to cover up a shirt he was wearing to vote which read “Don’t Tread on Me.” The shirt also featured a Tea Party logo and a button reading “Please ID Me.” His lawyer argues the state’s ban on political clothing is overly broad. And he is right. Justices on the Supreme Court asked lawyers for the state some specific examples. A shirt supporting the NRA, the state says, would not be allowed. A shirt with a rainbow logo would be allowed, unless there is an issue about gay rights on the ballot. What about shirts reading “Parkland Strong” or “Make America Great?” What about a Colin Kaepernick jersey? Seemingly there is no end to this rabbit hole. In one case, an MIT student was stopped at the polls for wearing an MIT shirt that some poll worker thought was a show of support for Mitt Romney. No one wants to be taunted while trying to exercise their right to vote, or made to feel uncomfortable. But, unless this law is clarified, poll workers are going to be too busy enforcing the dress code to process our ballots.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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