February 09, 2015 Articles

Your License Plate, Your Speech?

The back of your car says a lot more than it might seem.

By Genelle I. Belmas – February 9, 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Supreme Court issued its decision in this case on June 18, 2015.

Think about your car’s license plate. Whose message are you carrying? If you have a basic plate (random letters and numbers on a standard background), the answer seems pretty easy: It’s the government’s message. But if you have a vanity plate with a customized background or a custom set of letters and numbers, the answer is a lot less clear.

The question of whether specialty plates constitute the driver’s speech or the government’s speech is at the heart of a case granted cert in December 2014. In Walker v. Tex. Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether these specialty license plates qualify as government speech or as private speech. If the plates are determined to be government speech, then there is no requirement of viewpoint neutrality.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now