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http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2..._bush_plate.txt

 

State looks to pull anti-Bush license plate

 

By Kevin Woster, Journal staff

 

RAPID CITY -- Heather Moriah loves the personalized license plates on her silver Prius encouraging the impeachment of President George W. Bush.

 

But somebody doesn?t agree. And that somebody complained to the state. Now, the South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles is trying to recall the plates -- which read MPEACHW. And if Moriah doesn?t turn them in voluntarily, the state might send law-enforcement officers to pick them up.

 

Even so, she?s not immediately inclined to cooperate.

 

?I don?t think I?m going to play,? Moriah said Thursday afternoon. ?The plate isn?t in poor taste. It?s not sexual in nature or pornographic. To me, a political message should not be considered offensive.?

 

But Division of Motor Vehicles director Deb Hillmer said Thursday that the law clearly gives the state authority to recall the plates and have them forcibly removed if necessary. And although only one person complained about Moriah?s political statement, that?s all it takes to recall a set of vanity plates, Hillmer said.

 

?I?m following the letter of the law,? she said. ?It?s offensive to someone and not in good taste and decency. And the plates are the property of the state of South Dakota.?

 

State law declares motor vehicle licenses plates to be the property of the state as long as the plates are valid. The law also allows personalized plates with as many as seven letters for an extra $25 fee. But it gives DMV officials the right to refuse to issue ?any letter combination which carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency.?

 

Hillmer said MPEACHW meets that criterion. The plates never would have been issued if DMV officials had caught their meaning at the time Moriah applied, Hillmer said.

 

?This was one that we apparently missed when it came through originally, and we received a complaint from an individual that found it offensive,? she said, declining to identify the individual or provide the contents of the complaint. ?I don?t think we ever would have issued it if we?d have picked up on what it was inferring.?

 

Moriah said she bought the 2005 Prius late last summer and fitted it with personalized plates similar to those her partner, Curt Finnegan, had on his blue 2004 Prius. His plates actually read: IMPCH-W.

 

Moriah said has received plenty of positive reactions in public to her plates and that negative responses have been rare. So she was surprised to receive the April 18 letter from the DMV announcing the recall and giving her 10 days to turn in the plates at the Pennington County Treasurer?s Office or the DMV office in Pierre.

 

The letter said DMV would issue a refund on the months remaining on Moriah?s license.

 

She is hesitant to give up the plates, however, because she believes her free-speech rights are being unnecessarily limited.

 

?It?s kind of sad to me,? she said. ?For one person to be able to say they?re offended because it?s different from their political beliefs seems really arbitrary. And I don?t think the law is very clear about what ?offensive? means.?

 

Hillmer said the law gives the state great latitude in making that determination. Moriah is free to exercise her free-speech rights in ways that don?t involve state property or implied state sanction of a given message, Hillemr said.

 

?They have every right to use that free speech, but they need to do it with a bumper sticker,? she said. ?That plate is property of South Dakota. And that (message) is not something the state should advocate.?

 

It wouldn?t matter if the political message or the president were different, it would be inappropriate on a state plate, Hillmer said.

 

Moriah has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which intends to protest the recall in a letter to the state. Moriah said it?s unlikely the ACLU will pursue legal action, in part because she is planning a move to Pennsylvanian in the next couple of months.

 

Finnegan already has moved there and replaced his South Dakota plates for Pennsylvania plates, Moriah said. Moriah hopes to leave in June or July, with her plates still intact. Hillmer said it might not work out that way.

 

?We may have law enforcement go pick them up if we receive more complaints about it,? she said. ?If she returns them, we?ll make her new plates. If we have to go pick them up, we probably won?t.?

 

Hillmer has been with DMV for more than 20 years. She remembers five or six instances when so-called vanity plates were recalled. One of them said ?SNIPER? and another ?OLDFART.?

 

Moriah is the only person to complain about a recall, Hillmer said.

 

Rapid City lawyer Patrick Duffy said there?s plenty of reason to complain. Duffy, who has worked on key civil rights cases involving American Indian voting issues, said action by the state means that any personalized plate must be recalled because of a single complaint, no matter what the message.

 

?What this means is that every atheist can now wipe out anything that seems to refer to God,? Duffy said. ?Will vanity plates for members of the armed forces suddenly be declared offensive if they offend a single pacifist? It?s absolutely preposterous.?

 

Even obscenity must be judged by the mores and standards of a community, not just one offended individual, Duffy said.

 

?Here, all we need is one lone citizen who is apparently invested with the complete authority to determine what is good taste and decency for all the rest of us,? he said. ?It seems a little tyrannical to me.?

 

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com

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so, you buy the plates but they're the property of the state? Why doesn't the state purchase them?

 

And all those right to life and save the animals really offend me. Can I call South Dakota?

 

What about, "WRZBGFOOT"?

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Well they are allowed to do it so it is ok whether or not it is right or wrong

 

Why should something be ok just because it is right or wrong? They can pass an income tax of 95%, and would you be fine with someone posting how it is ok because they are allowed to do it? Come on now. Most issues of government policy don't boil down to what they can and can't do. I don't think when we have had a debate about social security, going to war, or immigration policy, we have ever heard someone say "well the government can do it, so it is ok."

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Well they are allowed to do it so it is ok whether or not it is right or wrong

 

Why should something be ok just because it is right or wrong? They can pass an income tax of 95%, and would you be fine with someone posting how it is ok because they are allowed to do it? Come on now. Most issues of government policy don't boil down to what they can and can't do. I don't think when we have had a debate about social security, going to war, or immigration policy, we have ever heard someone say "well the government can do it, so it is ok."

:lol

 

Anywho, my actual opinion on this is that the state of South Dakota is being juvenile and idiotic. See: 1st amendment

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Can't they just get a bumper sticker?

Or they can just get the plate they payed money for which states a political opinion, and no person with a straight face could ever say is harmful. Free Speech is fun stuff.

However, the license plate belongs to the state that issues it. That is understood. In Florida that has always been the case and they can ask for you to destroy it just like we are required to do of our expired/lost-and-then-found driver's licenses.

 

She can sue to argue whether the plate is offensive or not, but if the legal agreement she has with the State of South Dakota to use the state-issued license plate says they have sole discretion then she is SOL.

 

Her free speech stops when she steps onto property rights of the State of South Dakota. The license plate is state-issued and she uses it under their authority.

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Can't they just get a bumper sticker?

Or they can just get the plate they payed money for which states a political opinion, and no person with a straight face could ever say is harmful. Free Speech is fun stuff.

However, the license plate belongs to the state that issues it. That is understood. In Florida that has always been the case and they can ask for you to destroy it just like we are required to do of our expired/lost-and-then-found driver's licenses.

 

She can sue to argue whether the plate is offensive or not, but if the legal agreement she has with the State of South Dakota to use the state-issued license plate says they have sole discretion then she is SOL.

 

Her free speech stops when she steps onto property rights of the State of South Dakota. The license plate is state-issued and she uses it under their authority.

Yeah, nice try trying to weasel around the fact that you are advocating the revocation of a person's right to protest due to the fact that you're a blind homer for dubya. Real nice.

 

BTW, read the 14th amendment sometime, it's a great little piece of lit. But the amendment putting the same limitations on the states as federal government non withstanding, let's put you on the spot.

 

Legal grounds not withstanding. Do you agree with South Dakota's decesion to take away the plate? I don't want to hear they have the rights, I want to hear your actual opinion on whether or not the anti government conservative agrees with a decesion to take away someones political form of protest.

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Yeah, nice try trying to weasel around the fact that you are advocating the revocation of a person's right to protest due to the fact that you're a blind homer for dubya. Real nice.

 

BTW, read the 14th amendment sometime, it's a great little piece of lit. But the amendment putting the same limitations on the states as federal government non withstanding, let's put you on the spot.

 

Legal grounds not withstanding. Do you agree with South Dakota's decesion to take away the plate? I don't want to hear they have the rights, I want to hear your actual opinion on whether or not the anti government conservative agrees with a decesion to take away someones political form of protest.

I'm not advocating anything more than she litigate the matter and let the courts decide. The ACLU seems interested, go right ahead and do it. Even if she moves to Pennsylvania, it is important. However I do not believe she will win.

 

Do I disagree with South Dakota? Yes, but on the grounds that I don't like custom vanity plates at all...but if was issued it should not be recalled. If the DMV missed it, too bad.

 

BTW Rune, time for you to read the Constitution....the right to protest is in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. However, it could be argued that from the Draft Card Burning Case (US vs. O'Brien) that the same motive for that ruling (interference to smooth operation of a government system) could be used in the weak argument here.

 

I'm still for normally issued plates standing though.

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Yeah, nice try trying to weasel around the fact that you are advocating the revocation of a person's right to protest due to the fact that you're a blind homer for dubya. Real nice.

 

BTW, read the 14th amendment sometime, it's a great little piece of lit. But the amendment putting the same limitations on the states as federal government non withstanding, let's put you on the spot.

 

Legal grounds not withstanding. Do you agree with South Dakota's decesion to take away the plate? I don't want to hear they have the rights, I want to hear your actual opinion on whether or not the anti government conservative agrees with a decesion to take away someones political form of protest.

I'm not advocating anything more than she litigate the matter and let the courts decide. The ACLU seems interested, go right ahead and do it. Even if she moves to Pennsylvania, it is important. However I do not believe she will win.

 

Do I disagree with South Dakota? Yes, but on the grounds that I don't like custom vanity plates at all...but if was issued it should not be recalled. If the DMV missed it, too bad.

 

BTW Rune, time for you to read the Constitution....the right to protest is in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. However, it could be argued that from the Draft Card Burning Case (US vs. O'Brien) that the same motive for that ruling (interference to smooth operation of a government system) could be used in the weak argument here.

 

I'm still for normally issued plates standing though.

Someone's got wikipedia access. You want to let the courts decide? Fine, aside from the case you point too almost all cases involving the issue of free speech on a state level usually always goes with the plantiff. That may change with Bush's appointees but the fact is almost any federal court in the country now and in the past will and would have sided with her.

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You want to let the courts decide? Fine, aside from the case you point too almost all cases involving the issue of free speech on a state level usually always goes with the plantiff. That may change with Bush's appointees but the fact is almost any federal court in the country now and in the past will and would have sided with her.

This would not reach Federal Court immediately. Let it go to court in South Dakota. If the court goes her way, then she has more momentum behind her. If the state court goes against, no harm to her. This is the type of case the ACLU should be trying in court. It is a simple, yet fundamental issue with far-reaching consequences.

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A few years ago there was a Cuban-Jewish guy here in South Florida who had "JEWBAN" as his plates. Some whacko called up and complained that he was trying to rally support to ban Jews.

 

He argued his case and won. But what hassle this guy went through. What about double jeopardy? You can't be tried twice for the same crime~ stretch the allegory into the situation of her plates passing the state inspectors. Now, because someone got their panties twisted, they want the plates recalled? HellO!! it passed the inspection the first time. I say, "Ledigo!"

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A few years ago there was a Cuban-Jewish guy here in South Florida who had "JEWBAN" as his plates. Some whacko called up and complained that he was trying to rally support to ban Jews.

 

He argued his case and won. But what hassle this guy went through. What about double jeopardy? You can't be tried twice for the same crime~ stretch the allegory into the situation of her plates passing the state inspectors. Now, because someone got their panties twisted, they want the plates recalled? HellO!! it passed the inspection the first time. I say, "Ledigo!"

 

I saw that one on the news.

 

This whole thing is ridiculous.

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Can't they just get a bumper sticker?

Or they can just get the plate they payed money for which states a political opinion, and no person with a straight face could ever say is harmful. Free Speech is fun stuff.

However, the license plate belongs to the state that issues it. That is understood. In Florida that has always been the case and they can ask for you to destroy it just like we are required to do of our expired/lost-and-then-found driver's licenses.

 

She can sue to argue whether the plate is offensive or not, but if the legal agreement she has with the State of South Dakota to use the state-issued license plate says they have sole discretion then she is SOL.

 

Her free speech stops when she steps onto property rights of the State of South Dakota. The license plate is state-issued and she uses it under their authority.

 

You are actually pretty much 100% wrong, and I have no clue where you are pulling this from.

 

Just because something is state property, it is not expemted from free speech requirments. Your argument might be that this is a nonpublic forum, but courts are split on this.

 

However, even the case law that says that state plates are nonpublic forums makes clear that states still cannot discriminate based on viewpoint. You would have to be pretty biased to think that South Dakota is being viewpoint neutral in this instance. It is one thing to say no plates with curse words, but another thing to recall her plates because they attack the president.

 

And I'm not sure how you think that the state of South Dakota is exempted because they are a state. That's just not true at all.

 

In 2001, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Lewis v. Wilson that Missouri officials violated the First Amendment rights of a motorist by denying her request for the license plate ?ARYAN-1.? The court wrote that the ?DOV may not censor a license plate because its message might make people angry.?

 

However, in the same year, the 2nd Circuit ruled in Perry v. McDonald that Vermont officials could deny a request for a vanity plate bearing the letters ?SHTHPNS.? The state had a policy that prohibited the issuance of vanity plates containing offensive, scatological terms. The appeals panel determined that license plates are a nonpublic forum in which government officials can regulate speech as long as their restrictions are reasonable and do not discriminate based on viewpoint.

 

The panel determined that the regulation of ?SHTHPNS? is not viewpoint discriminatory because the restriction merely prohibits the person?s use of the word ?sh*t.? The court explained:

 

It is apparent that Vermont?s policy does not oppose Perry?s philosophical views as reflected in the vanity plate. Vermont?s policy prohibits Perry?s vanity plate not because it stands for ?sh*t happens (so don?t let life?s problems drive you to drink),? but because Perry chose to express that viewpoint using a combination of letters that stands in part for the word ?sh*t.? This restriction does not discriminate on the basis of viewpoint.

 

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/speech...=license_plates

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