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Thread: Vanity plates catch ACLU's eye
04-24-09, 08:32 PM #1
Vanity plates catch ACLU's eye
The American Civil Liberties Union has fired the first shot in what could turn into a legal battle over the state's control of what messages may appear on personalized license plates.
Colorado chapter legal director Mark Silverstein earlier this week asked the Colorado Department of Revenue for records including copies of plate applications denied since Jan. 1, 2007, because they were considered "offensive to the general public," or "offensive to good taste and decency."
Revenue department spokesman Mark Couch said he had received the request and the agency will comply with the Colorado Open Records Act.
The ACLU became interested in the case after a Centennial woman was denied a plate with a message trumpeting her affection for tofu. Kelley Coffman-Lee, 38, asked the Revenue Department's Division of Motor Vehicles to approve a special plate emblazoned with "ILVTOFU" for her Suzuki SL-7.
But "FU" is on a long list of letter combinations barred by the division because someone could interpret the letters as an abbreviated obscenity.
Courts have held that when the state sets up a program allowing personalized license plates, a decision whether to approve the message must comply with the First Amendment, Silverstein said.
A standard such as "offensive to good taste and decency" is too vague, subjective and indefinite to survive a First Amendment challenge, he said.
Unsafe at any read?
When it comes to offensive, vanity plates are a bit like pornography — people know 'em when they see 'em. Or do they?
Oklahoma's Tulsa World reported last August that plates rejected in the Sooner State include "U-IDIOT," "BUFMAMA," "IMNUDE" and "YRUGLY."
Kansas found "TOPLESS" acceptable because the plate was intended for a convertible. Rejected by Kansas? "XTCY," "PIMPN" and "2HOT4U."
A columnist from Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News pointed out that "MERLOT" was off-limits, but "PD4BYEX," "IM4BEEF," "SATAN"" and "GAYSROK" — which was initially rejected — made the cut.
04-24-09, 08:43 PM #2
Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
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04-25-09, 01:12 AM #3Chief Wheaties PisserVerified LEO
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The ACLU will prostitute themselves just about everywhere these days, won't they?
04-25-09, 02:19 AM #4Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way" ~Martin Luther King, Jr
04-25-09, 06:27 AM #5"If anything worthwhile comes of this tragedy, it should be the realization by every citizen that often the only thing that stands between them and losing everything they hold dear... is the man wearing a badge." -- Ronald Reagan, in the wake of the deaths of 4 CHP troopers in the Newhall Incident, 1970
The opinions given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "121Traffic" on O/R.
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