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Court says yes to vanity, no to profanity on license plates

Posted at 11:21 AM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 11:21:26-04
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- An appeals court has ruled that Maryland officials did not violate a driver's right to free speech by recalling a vanity license plate that displayed an offensive Spanish word.
 
The Daily Record of Baltimore reports that the Maryland Court of Appeals unanimously decided Friday that the words conveyed on a state-issued license plate constitute "private speech on government property" that is subject to reasonable regulation. The court also ruled that the word does not meet the standard for protected free speech.
 
The driver, Washington lawyer John T. Mitchell, argued that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration "has no power to restrict expression" that is not obscene. The license plate bore the Spanish word for excrement for more than two years before a fellow motorist complained about it in December 2011.
 

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