Michigan agrees — ‘WAR SUX’ personalized license plate will be allowed

From the consent decree in Matwyuk v. Johnson (W.D. Mich. Sept. 3, 2014):

1. On May 23, 2014, this Court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that M.C.L. § 257.803b(1)’s “offensive to good taste and decency” restriction governing Michigan’s personalized license plates is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague. As a result of that Order, the parties agree to these terms.

2. Defendant is enjoined from enforcing the “offensive to good taste and decency” restriction of M.C.L. § 257.803b(1)….

3. Upon proper application for a personalized license plate with the configuration “WAR SUX” and payment of all appropriate fees, Defendant shall cause the “WAR SUX” personalized plate requested by Plaintiff David DeVarti to be issued to him forthwith.

4. Defendant shall cause Plaintiffs’ counsel to be paid $21,500.00 in full satisfaction of Plaintiffs’ claims for costs and attorneys’ fees ….

6. Under the current authority given to the Department of State by M.C.L. § 257.803b to prescribe the letter and number configurations on a personalized plate, in administering the personalized license plate program, Defendant shall not prohibit the word “sucks” and its variations such as “SUX” and “SUKS” on grounds that the word is sexual in nature, profane, vulgar or otherwise inappropriate when, in context, the word is being used as the slang term meaning “is objectionable or inadequate.” …

For more on the case, see this post; note that the INF1DL plate, which was also originally part of the dispute, was eventually approved by Michigan authorities.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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