Right to Wear Buttons and T-shirts to the Polls, Borak v. Rodrigues 

A state statute makes it a misdemeanor to "give, tender, or exhibit any...campaign material" within 40 feet of a polling place on Election Day. In 2008, the State Board of Elections enacted a policy interpreting the statute to prohibit the wearing of buttons, t-shirts, stickers, or other campaign apparel. We filed suit on behalf of two voters who wore a t-shirt or button to the polls on Election Day 2008, and were required to take them off or cover them before they could vote. The suit challenges the SBE policy as violating the First Amendment right to free speech.

During the 2009 General Assembly, the legislature passed, and Governor Tim Kaine signed into law, a bill preventing election officials from "prohibit[ing] a person who approaches or enters the polling place for the purpose of voting from wearing a shirt, hat, or other apparel on which a candidate's name or political slogan appears or from having a sticker or button attached to his apparel on which a candidate's name or a political slogan appears."

With the new law passed, the lawsuit became unnecessary and it was withdrawn on June 4, 2009.

Court Documents (click links to view pdf)

Complaint- U.S. District Court, Richmond


Rebecca K. Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia; Josh Wheeler, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression; John Whitehead and Doug McKusick, The Rutherford Institute

Date filed

December 10, 2008


U.S. District Court, Richmond