A federal judge dismissed Wednesday a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of state law restricting electioneering at polling places.


The suit was brought by the state chapter of the ACLU on behalf of groups who contended their free speech rights were limited by the law, which bars promoting a candidate within 250 feet of a polling place.


It argued that some local election officials, notably former Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker, who was named in the suit, were using the law to stamp out other political speech, including nonpartisan activism, near polling places.


In dismissing the case, District Judge Holly Teeter noted that all 50 states had similar laws, which also limit the displaying of signs and other campaign materials near election sites.


She specifically cited a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed a similar buffer zone in Tennessee as constitutional, although the ACLU had maintained that Kansas’ law was more stringent.


"In recognition of this deference, the Supreme Court only required that any buffer-zone law not significantly impinge on constitutionally protected rights ... The Court does not find that Kansas’s buffer-zone law — even at 250 feet — crosses that line," Teeter wrote in her decision.


The suit argued that Kansas "is the only (state) in the country that does not exempt private property located within" the 250-foot radius.


"Kansas’s statute is geographically overbroad and restricts substantially more speech than necessary to achieve any legitimate governmental goal— much less a compelling government goal — including but not limited to preventing voter intimidation and interference with voters en route to the polls," the complaint said.


Teeter dismissed this line of argument as well.


Attorney General Derek Schmidt cheered Teeter’s ruling.


"I appreciate Judge Teeter’s ruling that the Constitution permits, and history and common sense favor, these sorts of laws that preserve the right to vote and ensure the integrity of Kansas elections," he said in a statement.