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Free speech advocates attack the campaign button ban

Call it the odd trio.  Three free speech advocacy groups that don’t always see eye-to-eye have found common ground to challenge Virginia’s ban on campaign apparel at the voting booth.

A lawsuit challenging the campaign button ban was filed this week by the (typically liberal) ACLU of Virginia, the (typically conservative) Rutherford Institute, and the (professed nonpartisan) Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

The plaintiffs in the case are two voters, from Fairfax County and Richmond, who were told they would not be allowed to vote unless they removed their Obama badges (one wore a button, the other a sticker).

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, says that Virginia’s button ban “serves only to severely infringe upon the fundamental right of citizens to engage in silent, passive, non-disruptive political expression.”

The lawsuit also notes that the policy enacted by the State Board of Elections is enforced differently in the various Virginia localities.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer.

By Peter Vieth

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