Wearing the wrong T-shirt can get you get booted from polling location

There are a lot of fans of President Trump across America who have those MAGA, Make American Great Again, T-shirts, and jackets and caps.

And they wear them.

Likewise there is speculation that singing star Taylor Swift, whose headlines of late seem to revolve around her Kansas City Chiefs boyfriend, may endorse a leftist in the 2024 race, and thus link herself to a political faction. Her fans, of course, have lots of “Taylor Swift” paraphernalia.

But a key rights organization, The Rutherford Institute, which fights in America’s courts for religious, civil and personal rights, is warning voters against wearing any such bling into a polling location.

It could get you booted.

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The organization documents how that is under a precedent allowed by the Supreme Court.

The rights group explains, “The U.S. Supreme Court has given government officials the green light to obstruct citizens from voting at polling places based on the content of speech displayed on their clothing.”

That comes after the court refused to hear an appeal in Ostrewich v. Hudspeth.

That “laid the groundwork for citizens to be prevented from voting merely by wearing something expressive on their clothing that might relate to an item on a ballot, “Rutherford explained.

“In a joint amicus brief with Justice and Freedom Fund and World Faith Foundation, The Rutherford Institute warned against electioneering laws that give government officials too much discretion to engage in viewpoint discrimination of voters,” it explained. “Conceivably, just the act of wearing a MAGA hat, a Taylor Swift T-shirt, or other apparel that could be perceived by a poll worker as sending a political message could get one criminally prosecuted or prevented from voting in some states.”

John W. Whitehead, chief of Rutherford, noted, “These polling place laws can be so vague as to prohibit citizens from voting merely for wearing clothing with images of Martin Luther King Jr. or John Lennon that could be considered ‘relating to’ an item on the ballot. Yet political speech, especially speech critical of the government, is a constitutional virtue, not a harm. These bans on the passive act of displaying speech, political or otherwise, at a polling place are an affront to the right to political free speech protected by the First Amendment.”

The report said the problem already is spreading, as, “when Linda McMahon, the wife of World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon, ran for the U.S. Senate, there were questions over whether voters in Connecticut could be turned away for wearing WWE merchandise,” the report said. “In Georgia, a man was ordered to remove his NRA hat while going to vote.”

Texas even makes it a crime to “merely wear a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device ‘relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot.'”

The rejected case involved, in 2018, Jillian Ostrewich, the wife of a firefighter, wearing a shirt with a union logo and “Houston Fire Fighters” on it.

She was refused permission to vote until she turned her shirt inside-out.

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