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May 13, 2005

Vermont censors religious speech

From WorldNetDaily:

After receiving a rejection from the state to his request for custom plates bearing "JOHN316," Rutlant, Vt., resident Shawn Byrne appealed to an administrative law judge. When the appeal was rejected Byrne, with the help of religious-liberties law firm Alliance Defense Fund, sued in federal court earlier this year.

According to the Rutland Herald, Byrne's attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, last week filed a response in U.S. District Court to the state's motion that the suit be dismissed.

"To be sure, title to these thin tin plates may rest in the state, but the message on a vanity plate is that of the registered owner, not the state," Tedesco wrote in his filing, saying the rejection of the plates was a violation of Byrne's First Amendment rights.

The state last month argued in court records that the case should be dismissed because license plates are state property and a religious message placed on them could be viewed as a government endorsement of religion, the local paper reported.

If it's the state saying something, then why allow the individual to choose what it says? Isn't that pretty much the idea behind customized plates — that it's the message the car owner wishes to convey?

Posted by Danny Carlton at May 13, 2005 02:57 PM

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