During an hour of confrontation, they incited lawyers on both sides and worried about drawing a line that would protect the integrity of the electoral process without violating the freedom of speech.
Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed to refresh it. At one point, "How should we monitor the line?"
Justice Elena Kagan wondered if such a statute should be restricted to target only the election speeches. For example, the name of a candidate or voting problem. But she asked where a T-shirt with the words "Make America Great Again", a slogan of the Trump campaign, came on the line. Or a T-shirt that simply said "Resist".
"What would be included in advocacy material?" she asked.
Judge Samuel Alito expressed concerns about the Minnesota Act and the fact that it leaves it to survey work to determine if the language is political.
In a series of hypotheses, he asked a state attorney if a "Parkland Strong" T-shirt referring to recent shootings could be affected by the state's ban. Or another that supported the National Rifle Association or included the words of the 2nd Amendment.
"I bet a candidate could raise a gun control issue," Alito said. "The problem is that so many things have political connotations, and the connotations are in the eye of the beholder," he continued.
He urged a lawyer for the state on the possibility of "arbitrary enforcement" for a shirt that could read "All life matters" or a button that says "I miss Bill (Clinton)" or "Reagan / Bush 84 "
Judge Anthony Kennedy, on the other hand, suggested some support for Minnesota's law when he said," Why should a speech be made in the polling booth? "
"They are here to vote," he said.
The Minnesota law in question prohibits individuals from wearing "political insignia" at polling stations, a "political badge, political button or similar." All 50 states have laws that restrict the language to some extent, but about nine states have laws, which are as broad as the Minnesota Statute.
The case was presented by Andrew Cilek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, who went to his polling station in 201
After the elections, Cilek filed a lawsuit The law violates the First Amendment, because it is too broad, and it turns into the discretionary powers of electoral officials to determine which messages are political. He said that his group, for example, did not support or reject candidates or topics in the 2010 vote.
A lower court upheld the ban, arguing that it promotes government interest in "peace, order and decency" at polling stations. Cilek's lawyers from the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation appealed to the Supreme Court.
"The law prohibits and potentially criminalizes any kind of political speech about clothing from what is simply called a political group to news that supports ideological or biased references to news on current affairs," they said in court records ,
"No conceivable government interest can uphold a law that prohibits and deters the entire range of political speech that can be conveyed about clothing," they wrote.
Minnesota officials defend the law, arguing that the interests of the people Citizens must lead to "reasonable" electoral restrictions.
"Minnesota's Restricted Prohibition is a sensible limitation of speech in a fundamental, nonpublic forum that protects the integrity of elections, preserving order and decency at the polling station and preventing voter confusion and intimidation," they argued in a court case.
A decision is not expected until this spring.