A Delaware woman had her “FCANCER” license plate revoked by the state, but a federal judge ruled this week the crude phrase could be protected as free speech under the First Amendment.
The judge said in a ruling that Milton resident Kari Lynn Overington’s lawsuit raises a “significant constitutional issue.”
Overington, 41, received the license from the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles in 2020 before DMV manager Levi Fisher revoked it six months later, telling her it “does not positively represent the division and the state.”
Delaware Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski supported the resigning bureaucrat, stating that the “F” on the sign stood for a “perceived obscenity.”
Noting that there were other “F” words she could refer to, Overington also argued that the DMV uses profane innuendos in state-sponsored slogans like “Get your head out of your apps” and “Oh Cell No.” would have.
“My vanity plate gets positive feedback everywhere, and I’ve had more than a few in-depth conversations with complete strangers about my cancer and how it’s impacted their lives,” Overington wrote in an email to Majeski.
When her efforts to get the vanity back ended in vain, she filed a lawsuit against Majeski, Fisher and DMV Director Jana Simpler, alleging that the officers violated her right to free speech.
The state argued that its employees had qualified immunity from personal claims made against them and tried to dismiss the lawsuit, but US District Court Judge Richard Andrews blocked the dismissal motion Monday.
Andrews said the lawsuit raises a “significant constitutional issue,” citing a Supreme Court ruling that allows Americans to challenge freedom of expression through “unbridled discretion in the hands of a government official.”
The judge allowed Overington – who had defended herself – to amend her lawsuit to clarify that the defendants were being sued in their official rather than individual capacity and said he would help her find an attorney to defend the to argue constitutional issues.
“I’m ready for my day in court,” Overington told the Associated Press.
With AP wires
https://nypost.com/2022/08/03/delaware-womans-revoked-fcancer-vanity-plate-could-be-protected-speech-judge/ Delaware woman’s revoked ‘FCANCER’ vanity could be protected speech: judge