Georgia Sued Over Banned Vanity Plates

Two free-speech lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Robert G. Mickell, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Driver Services, citing the state restriction on some vanity plates violate several constitutional rights. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of James Cyrus Gilbert, whose vanity plate application was rejected.

Gilbert applied for 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR and GAYGUY. All three variations are banned by the state even though the state does allow plates representing religious and political expression, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A vanity plate or personalized plate is a special type of vehicle registration plate on an automobile or other vehicle. The owner of the vehicle pays extra money to have his or her own choice of numbers or letters, usually forming a recognizable phrase, slogan, or abbreviation on their plate.

Sales of vanity plates are often a significant source of revenue for provincial and state licensing agencies. States ban displaying plates that are vulgar, hateful, or anything deemed unsuitable.

The suit seeks to repeal the states arbitrary and inconsistent approval process and asks for damages and legal fees. State officials approved HATERS but denied HATERS1. They approved BLKBERI, BLKCHRY, and BLCBUTI but denied BLKACE.

Gilbert voiced his disapproval of the application rejection and onset of the lawsuit:

“It’s not like I was asking for something that was vulgar or over the top. Denying someone the right to put gay on their tag, that’s political. If I want I could get a tag that said straight man, but because it had gay on it, it’s not available.”

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