A New Hampshire man whose request for a license plate that reads “COPSLIE” was denied by the DMV has taken his case to court.
The man, David Montenegro (who legally changed his name to “Human” last year), said he wanted the plate because he feels it epitomizes government corruption. He told the state’s highest court that denying him the plate violates his political free speech rights.
The DMV’s current policy prohibits vanity plates that “a reasonable person would find offensive to good taste.”
But who gets to determine what is good taste and what is not?
Lawyers for the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union joined the case. They say current DMV regulation is “unconstitutionally vague and vests too much discretion in a person behind a counter.”
USA Today reported on the court’s lively discussion:
“So if a person at DMV agrees with the sentiment, he gets the plate?” Chief Justice Linda Dalianis asked during a spirited half-hour of arguments.
“What is good taste?” Justice Carol Ann Conboy asked. “That seems to be the nub of the argument.”
Senior Assistant Attorney General Richard Head argued that state workers were right to deny Montenegro the plate in 2010, because the phrase accuses an entire class of people — police officers — of moral turpitude.
“I don’t deny you might get two different decisions from two different people,” Head said in response to a question about whether a plate reading “COPS R GR8″ would be approved.
Anthony Galdieri, an attorney representing the civil liberties union, argued that an accusation is nothing more than viewpoint.
Justice Gary Hicks questioned how the court could restrict someone’s ability to have an opinion. Head replied that Montenegro’s plate preference was an allegation, not an opinion.
Gilles Bissonnette, another NHCLU attorney, said “COPSLIE” is political speech that is being regulated and suppressed by the government.
“There’s no way to objectively enforce this regulation,” Bissonnette said.
After court, Human explained more about why he wants the vanity tags:
“If I could condense all of the problems that I’ve seen in New Hampshire government down to a single sound bite small enough to fit on a license plate, ‘COPSLIE’ would be it.”
He also said if an officer pulled him over and had to type “COPSLIE” into the computers, that would amount to “the perfect situational irony.”
Human, who represented himself in court, opened his argument by telling the justices that the only reason the case had reached their level was because of a corrupt judiciary.
Justices did not say when they will make a decision.
It is worth noting that New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die.” You don’t have to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle or wear a seatbelt if you are a passenger in a vehicle who is over 18, but you can’t have license plates that might be offensive to “someone.”
Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”