Polictical messages on license plates might get you in trouble……

There is an item on Common Dreams about the DMV in South Dakota attempting to revoke a woman’s license plate because of the plates political messageMPEACHW  She had the plates made to match her husband’s which had IMPCH W

On April 18, Heather Morijah got a letter from the South Dakota DMV.

The agency “is in receipt of a written complaint about your personalized plates,” the letter says. “With this complaint I am sorry to inform you that the set of plates MPEACHW are being recalled. . . . You will have 10 days from the date of receiving this letter to surrender the plates.”

When Morijahn called the DMV and asked for a copy of the complaint (with the person’s name blacked out, a list of all the vanity plates they’d issued in the last year, and  a list of the vanity plates they had recalled, she was denied the request.

When a reporter contact the DMV, the response was:

“I’m following the letter of the law,” DMV director Deb Hillmer told Woster. “It’s offensive to someone and not in good taste and decency. And the plates are the property of the state of South Dakota.”

Thanks to the ACLU, the DMV changed their tune.

The ACLU’s Ring then faxed over a letter on May 4 to Paul Kinsman, secretary of Revenue and Regulation, which oversees the DMV.

“Her opinion may not be shared by everyone in the United States or in South Dakota,” Ring wrote. “Regardless, her political comments and criticism are protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Article 4, Section 5, of the South Dakota Constitution, and the state is not permitted to censor that protected speech.”

Ring pointed out that “political speech such as ‘impeach George Bush’ is indisputably not ‘indecent’ or ‘vulgar’ in any respect. It may offend some citizens of South Dakota, but that is not a valid basis for the State to censor pure political speech.”

On May 7, the DMV pulled a U-turn.

Heather Morijah states:

“We both feel very strongly about this administration for a large number of reasons. The big number one would be leading us into an imperialistic occupation in Iraq to get their oil, and lying to the American people at the expense of many American lives and many Iraqi lives. And number two, the horrifying damage they’re inflicting on the environment in this country and in the world. This particular issue has been resolved,” she says. “But I hope the momentum this has created continues. And not just on the free speech issue, but also on going forward with removing this incredibly harmful administration.”


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