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Michigan Personalized License Plates Now Covered By Freedom Of Speech

A judgement signed yesterday means you can get just about anything put on your personalized Michigan license plate. Well, almost anything.

In what was seen as a win for freedom of speech advocates, a judge signed a consent judgment today ordering the State of Michigan to stop enforcing an unconstitutional law that allows the Secretary of State’s office to deny personalized license plates based on overly broad and vague criteria.

Last year, the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit on behalf of a war veteran from the Upper Peninsula whose attempts to acquire a personalized license plate that read “INF1DL,” a variation of the word “infidel,” were unconstitutionally rejected by the Secretary of State for being “offensive to good taste and decency.”

Later, the ACLU of Michigan amended its lawsuit to include a political activist from Ann Arbor who was similarly told that his request for a license plate that says “WAR SUX” was being denied because that, too, might offend someone. In May 2013, U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that the “offensive to good taste and decency” law violates the First Amendment.

Today’s settlement allows the vanity license plate program to continue while still protecting drivers’ First Amendment rights.

So, is it time to rush out to the nearest SOS office to get “F*** OFF” or the Seinfled classic, “A**MAN” for your license plate?

Not so fast, young Jedi.

According to a column on the subject in MLive.com, you still can’t get too crazy.

The state can still impose restrictions on requests for plates that are indecent, or contain profanity, have configurations of a sexual nature or portray a negative image of a given racial, religious or socioeconomic group, including those of a particular gender or sexual orientation.

 

Configurations that are unacceptable to a society’s collective values, such as “COPKILR,” or those dealing with illegal drugs, also fall out of bounds.

 

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