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Safeguarding Voters’ Free Speech Rights at the Polls

Reed v. Purcell

Case Status

Date Filed

October 29, 2010

Last Step

Victory! The Arizona federal district court issued an injunction in favor of the Plaintiffs.

Next Step

Case Overview

On October 28, 2010, the Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Scottsdale resident Mark Reed, who wanted 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 declared that all clothing with any political messages is banned at polling places on Election Day, not just clothing with messages that attempt to influence voters. The Goldwater Institute went to court to argue that this ban violated constitutionally protected free speech. 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.

Case Logistics

The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represents Mark Reed of Scottsdale. Mr. Reed has no formal connection to a tea party group. But he plans to wear a T-shirt when he votes Nov. 2, 2010, in support of the movement that says “Tea Party: Principles Not Politicians” and also includes the “Do Not Tread On Me” logo.

Whom are we suing?

• Helen Purcell as an individual and in her official capacity as the Maricopa County Recorder, as she has the legal duty to oversee all state elections held within that county. Her responsibilities include the proper training of poll workers to respect the constitutional rights of all voters.

• Karen Osborne as an individual and in her official capacity as Director of Elections for Maricopa County.

• Maricopa County, which has the ultimate responsibility of protecting federal civil rights of all voters at every election managed by the county.

Who is the judge?

• U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg

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