Judge Refuses To Dismiss Lawsuit Against DMV For ‘FCANCER’ Vanity License Plate

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A federal decide on Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed towards Delaware authorities officers who recalled an arrogance license plate issued to a breast most cancers survivor due to what the state transportation secretary described as a “perceived profanity.”

The decide stated in a ruling that the lawsuit by Kari Lynn Overington of Milton raises a “significant constitutional issue.”

“I am ready for my day in court,” Overington, 41, stated in a quick cellphone interview.

In December 2020, Overington utilized for an arrogance license plate studying “FCANCER” and acquired it two months later.

In June 2021, she acquired a letter from the supervisor of the Division of Motor Autos workplace in Dover telling her that the plate “does not represent the division and the state in a positive manner.” DMV supervisor Levi Fisher wrote that any plate thought of offensive shall be denied or recalled, if issued in error.

Overington responded by emailing state Transportation Secretary Nicole Majeski and asking for her assist. She argued that the typical particular person wouldn’t think about her self-importance tag to be obscene. She additionally stated court docket rulings in different states counsel that First Modification rights apply to self-importance tags, and that any rules should be “viewpoint neutral.”

“My vanity plate receives positive feedback everywhere I go, and I have had more than a few deep conversations with complete strangers about my cancer and how cancer has touched their lives because of it,” Overington wrote. “The community of cancer warriors, cancer survivors, and those who love them is far reaching and very supportive.”

Majeski stood by the choice to recall the self-importance plate, saying officers should be certain that they aren’t approving license tags that include “obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, hate speech or fighting words.”

“Your vanity plate FCANCER contains a perceived profanity, the abbreviation for the word “F(asterisk)@k”, and for that cause, it should be recalled,” Majeski wrote, apologizing for the oversight by DMV workers in initially approving the plate.

Overington then requested DOT officers to hunt enter from Gov. John Carney.

“In other states the governor has gotten involved in these cases and the person was able to keep their vanity tags,” she wrote. “I’d be disappointed if Governor Carney was not willing to at least consider stepping in, especially given his work with the Delaware Cancer Consortium and his connection to Beau Biden and the entire Biden family.”

Beau Biden, a former Delaware lawyer normal and the eldest son of President Joe Biden Jr., died of mind most cancers in 2015.

Overington famous in a later electronic mail that there are many different “F” phrases within the English language, together with “freedom” and that her license tag didn’t really spell the phrase about which DMV officers have been involved. She additionally identified that the DMV itself has used implied profanity on digital indicators advising motorists to drive safely. These messages embrace “Get your head out of your Apps” and “Oh Cell No.”

DMV Director Jana Easier stood quick, nonetheless, insisting that Overington might now not show the self-importance tag.

Overington responded by submitting a lawsuit final 12 months, claiming that the state officers had violated her First Modification rights by imposing content-based and viewpoint-based restrictions on her speech.

State officers sought to dismiss the grievance, arguing that it did not state a a correct declare and that the defendants — Fisher, Easier and Majeski — have certified immunity towards claims raised towards them of their particular person capacities.

“This lawsuit is one of those instances where an individual seeks to push the boundaries of what DMV will permit to be displayed on a vanity license plate, to allow the display of profanity,” an lawyer for the state wrote.

Judge Richard Andrews denied the dismissal movement and granted a movement by Overington to amend her grievance to make clear that the defendants have been being sued of their official, not particular person, capacities.

Citing a 1988 U.S. Supreme Courtroom ruling, Andrews wrote that challenges to legal guidelines that burden free expression are permitted when a licensing statute locations “unbridled discretion in the hands of a government official.”

Andrews additionally famous that, whereas Overington has represented herself nicely with out a lawyer, the constitutional subject in dispute needs to be determined by way of a course of that features legal professionals on either side. He stated he would ask the court docket clerk whether or not an lawyer might be obtained as a “friend of the court” supporting Overington’s place.

A spokesman for the Division of Transportation didn’t instantly reply to an electronic mail searching for remark.