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Free Speech

When Arizona resident Mark Reed planned to vote while wearing a “Tea Party” t-shirt, government officials wanted to keep him out of the polls. The Goldwater Institute argued that Tea Party shirts were constitutionally protected free speech, no different than shirts promoting unions or other advocacy groups. The courts agreed, requiring election officials to use uniform, objective standards without violating the constitution.

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  • Korwin v. Cotton (Bus Shelter Ads case)

    Posted on May 11, 2011 | Type: Case

    On May 11, 2011, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Alan Korwin and TrainMeAz LLC to challenge the decision by Debbie Cotton, director of the Phoenix Public Transit Department, to remove posters at 50 bus shelters advertising the company’s website. Ms. Cotton has claimed the ads didn’t promote a commercial transaction as required by city policy. Ms. Cotton’s explanation ignores the express purpose of TrainMeAz to make a profit while providing resources to people who want training on self-defense and marksmanship. In addition, the city of Phoenix has no written standards to explain to potential advertisers what specific messages and logos are acceptable at city bus shelters. Ms. Cotton and the city of Phoenix have arbitrarily denied Mr. Korwin’s right to free speech.

  • Coconino County Promises to Protect Voters' Free Speech at Polling Places

    Posted on March 14, 2011 | Type: Press Release

    Flagstaff, Ariz. – Coconino County has accepted a settlement in a federal lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of Flagstaff voter Diane Wickberg. The suit was filed after Mrs. Wickberg was told by County poll workers at her voting precinct to cover up her T-shirt with the words “We the People” and “Flagstaff Tea Party – Reclaiming our Constitution Now” during two different elections in 2010.

  • Federal Judge Allows Tea Party T-shirts on Election Day

    Posted on November 01, 2010 | Type: Press Release

    PHOENIX – A federal judge has issued an emergency order stating that Maricopa County cannot ban clothing worn by voters on Election Day that refers to the phrase “tea party,” unless there’s also a message on the clothing that attempts to influence how other voters might cast their ballots.

  • Reed v. Purcell

    Posted on October 29, 2010 | Type: Case

    On Oct. 28, 2010, the Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Scottsdale resident Mark Reed, who wants to vote at his polling place while wearing a T-shirt that refers in a general manner to the phrase “tea party.” Maricopa County election officials have said their policy is to ban all clothing with any political messages at polling places on Election Day, not just clothing with messages that attempt to influence other voters. The lawsuit says Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell and county Elections Director Karen Osborne are violating the federal civil rights of voters who want to wear clothing with logos or messages that are not electioneering. A federal judge granted Goldwater Institute’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Maricopa County to protect voters’ rights during the election on Nov. 2, 2010, and voters were allowed to wear Tea Party T-shirts that didn't endorse candidates or issues to the polls. The preliminary injunction expired after the polls closed on November 2, and the fight continues.

  • Tea Party T-shirt gets the okay

    Posted on October 25, 2010 | Type: Video

    A member of the Flagstaff Tea Party will be able to wear her Tea Party T-shirt to the polls on November 2. Goldwater Institute attorney Diane Cohen talked about the federal judge's decision, and a new controversy brewing in Maricopa County, on 3 TV.

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