AG says no constitutional problem with prosecuting Justin Timberlake (well, not explicitly)

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has formally opined that the 2015 Tennessee law prohibiting the taking of pictures inside a voting booth does not violate the state for federal constitutions.

The opinion came in response to a request from state Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, who has announced he will push for repeal of the law in the 2017 legislative session. Hardaway’s announcement came after entertainer Justin Timberlake made a “selfie” while casting an early vote in Germantown that was posted on social media to be seen by millions nationwide.

Timberlake, of course, was not prosecuted for his violation of the misdemeanor offense, punishable typically by a $50 fine and (theoretically) up to 30 days in jail… and said he was unaware of the law. (Note: Previous posts HERE and, most recently, HERE.

Excerpt from the opinion:

The interior of a polling place is a nonpublic forum.  The government may, without violating either the U.S. or the Tennessee Constitution, regulate speech and expressive conduct in a nonpublic forum as long as the regulation is reasonable in light of that forum’s purpose.  The prohibitions in Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-142 are content-neutral regulations that are reasonable in light of the purposes of a polling place, which include (1) ensuring privacy of the ballot, speed and efficiency of the voting process, and integrity of the election, and (2) preventing disruption and distraction for voters, voter intimidation, and interference and fraud in the balloting process.

The full opinion is HERE.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG
Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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