On Nov. 6, the Indiana Supreme Court denied a police officer’s request for a license plate that read “0INK.”
The unanimous decision stated that messages on license plates are considered government speech — not free speech protected by the Constitution, Reuters reports. American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana attorney Ken Falk, who represented police officer Rodney Vawter, said he was “disappointed” by the ruling.
Vawter sued the state of Indiana in 2013 after his request for an “0INK” license plate — meant to be a reference to his job — was denied. The supreme court’s ruling said that license plates are government owned and issued IDs.
Prior to the ruling, vanity plates with phrases that included “BLK JEW,” “HATE,” UNHOLY” and “FOXY GMA” were all allowed by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), according to the Indy Star.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller applauded the ruling, Reuters notes. He said that the supreme court was “striking a careful balance that allows Indiana to have a personalized plate program motorists can utilize while recognizing BMV's authority to deny applications for offensive plate messages.”