A Michigan court has ruled that resident David DeVarti should not be allowed to put a license plate reading “WAR SUX” on his car. Why would a court choose to forbid a relatively harmless license plate message, you ask?
Because the plate would be offensive to children.
In a filing in Grand Rapid Court, the state said the plate would be offensive to children who amuse themselves by reading license plates on passing cars.
“...because vehicles often travel in residential neighborhoods, youth may be exposed to license plates from their yards or driveways,” said assistant attorney general Ann Sherman.
“Courts have often upheld legislation aimed at protecting the physical and emotional well-being of youth, even where First Amendment rights are concerned. Drivers cannot avoid an offensive word on a license plate in front of them because they cannot safely avert their eyes. And physically avoiding the plate by changing lanes may not be possible.”
DeVarti and the American Civil Liberties Union are now suing the state of Michigan in a lawsuit that says the state’s ruling is a violation of DeVarti’s first amendment free speech rights.
As CBS Detroit points out, this isn’t the first time Michigan has made a controversial ruling in rejecting a license plate. Iraq War veteran Michael Matwyuk’s bid for a license plate reading “INFIDEL” was rejected by the state recently as well. Matwyuk said the term had special meaning to him as he and his fellow soldiers were referred to as infidels by enemy combatants in Iraq. After an appeal, the court approved the plate. Something tells me DeVarti’s appeal may yield the same result.