Judge rules that the DMV can't censor license plates that are in bad taste

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John Q. Public
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Judge rules that the DMV can't censor license plates that are in bad taste

Post by John Q. Public »

Very strange, but understandable, ruling on this.
QUEER, SLAAYRR license plates are OK, says judge. Thanks to the First Amendment, the state of California can't ban residents from vanity license plate messages that it deems "offensive to good taste and decency." A federal court ruled Tuesday that the state rule was an unconstitutional restriction on free expression.

The case against the California Department of Motor Vehicles—heard by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California— was brought by five people who were told their choices of vanity plate messages were off-limits. The five plaintiffs were represented by the libertarian law firm Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF).

~snip~

"Tigar did say the DMV could probably be permitted to deny plates that are, for instance, obscene, profane or contain hate speech because they fall outside of First Amendment protections," notes the Associated Press.

https://reason.com/2020/11/25/offensive ... alifornia/
Okay, so where does bad taste leave off and profanity or hate speech begin?

The federal law on obscenity says:
The Miller test for obscenity includes the following criteria: (1) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’ (2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/obsceni ... California.
So you rush down to the DMV and get your plates that say "GOD SUX" and set out to visit your aunt in Georgia. Safe bet that you won't get ten miles into Texas before your car is impounded.

Yes, the overly sensitive censors got themselves into it, but I have to wonder what the state's going to do about it now. I wouldn't expect them to appeal but I'd expect most people to agree that there really should be a line. But how do they do that and stay within 1st Amendment limitations? Do they "reserve" certain combinations? Do they drop the program? What? Tough can-o-worms.
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Re: Judge rules that the DMV can't censor license plates that are in bad taste

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"I'm a proctologist."

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Re: Judge rules that the DMV can't censor license plates that are in bad taste

Post by John Q. Public »

A cute one I was surprised that the censors let through was a Caddy full of Asians with license plates that said "CADIRAC".
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