A New Jersey woman whose request for a vanity license plate with the words 8THEIST was turned down by the state Motor Vehicle Commission will now finally be able to use the plate. According to Yahoo News, the woman, Shannon Morgan, had filed a lawsuit against the decision of the commission which explained to her that the license plate that read 8THEIST may offend religious sentiments. Two years on, Morgan confirmed that a settlement filed in a Federal court last Friday has effectively resolved the lawsuit.
According to reports, as part of the settlement, the the state Motor Vehicle Commission also will let Morgan use the issue 8THEIST license plate. Apart from that, other controversial vanity license plates would also be allowed henceforth. Some of the vanity plates that would be permitted from now on are as follows:
SECULAR, RATIONL, HUMANST, ATHEISM, GODLESS, HEATHEN, HERETIC, SKEPTIC, BLASFMR, REASON, EVOLVE, TRANS, LGBTR.TS, LGBTQ, PRIDE, QUEER, GAYPOWR, LGBTALY, FEMINISM, FEMINST, EQUALITY and 4WOMEN.
Apart from allowing Morgan to use the 8THEIST license plate, the commission has also been told to pay an amount of $75,000 to resolve her claim.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) August 12, 2016
Following the settlement, state Motor Vehicle Commission spokeswoman Mairin Bellack told reporters that the decision to not honor the request for the 8THEIST license plate was “an oversight.”
“Initially this was an oversight that was corrected immediately. The plate was and is still available upon request. The (commission) has issued variations of 8THEIST upon proper request,” Bellack added.
Following the Motor Vehicle Commission’s refusal to allot her the 8THEIST license plate, in her lawsuit, Morgan alleged that the Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights when they rejected her request. Morgan had confirmed that she received a message from the commission stating that her request was ineligible as it “may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”
Following the refusal of the 8THEIST license plate, Morgan applied for another plate with the phrase BAPTIST, which the website of theMotor Vehicle Commission accepted without any issue. This incident led her to file the aforementioned lawsuit which eventually let her use an “8THEIST” license plate legally.
— Libertarian Republic (@TheLibRepublic) August 13, 2016
Morgan was helped in her lawsuit by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, religious liberty advocacy group, based in Washington, D.C. Speaking to reporters, Barry Lynn, the group’s executive director said;
“All Shannon Morgan ever wanted was for the state of New Jersey to stop disparaging her non-belief and cease treating her like a second-class citizen. The lesson of this case is simple: The government should treat believers and non-believers equally.”
Back in 2014, The Inquisitr reported about the case. Shannon Morgan had back then said that she identifies herself as an atheist and that she believes that she was being unfairly disparaged by the state.
“There is nothing offensive about being atheist.I should be able to express my sincerely held beliefs with a license plate just like everyone else.” Morgan had said back then.
“The state of New Jersey is favoring religion while disparaging non-belief. This license plate issue may seem like a small matter but it is indicative of a much larger problem — atheists are often treated by the government as second-class citizens.” Barry W. Lynn, was quoted as saying two years ago.
What do you think about the settlement that would now allow possibly “offensive” phrases on license plates issued across New Jersey? Would you be interested in getting a similar license plate for yourselves? Please let jus know in the comments section below.
[Image Via Pixabay]