Judge: California can’t ban offensive license plates

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FILE – In this May 24, 2010, file photo, an SUV with a personalized license plate is seen in Beverly Hills, Calif. A federal judge said Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, that California can’t ban vanity license plates it considers “offensive to good taste and decency,” because that violates freedom of speech. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge says California can’t ban vanity license plates it considers “offensive to good taste and decency” because that violates freedom of speech.

Tuesday’s ruling in San Francisco took aim at a Department of Motor Vehicles rule.

The judge said personalized plates are a form of expression by vehicle owners and rules governing them must be “viewpoint-neutral” even if the messages offend.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed on behalf of five people who were denied permission for their plate messages, including a gay Oakland man who wanted to use the word “QUEER” on his plate.

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