PORTLAND, Maine — (AP) — Primarily based on crude license plate messages, one could also be forgiven for assuming Maine doesn’t give two flips about obscenities.
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows needs to alter that.
Bellows, a former director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, testified Tuesday in help of a number of payments to rein within the wild west that ensued when the state ended the vetting course of for license plates in 2015.
From Fort Kent to Kittery, there at the moment are all matter of obscenities together with straight-up f-bombs and references to anatomy and intercourse acts adorning license plates issued for vehicles and vehicles.
“The First Modification protects your proper to have any bumper sticker you need, however it doesn’t power the state to difficulty you a registration plate that topics each little one in your neighborhood to a message the federal government wouldn’t permit them to see in a movie show,” she advised the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.
Payments earlier than the committee would reestablish a assessment course of, permit the secretary of state to reject vulgar license plates and permit the recall of offensive license plates that have already got been issued.
A majority of states have restrictions on license plate messages which might be thought of profane, offensive, sexually suggestive, racist, political, non secular or alcohol or drug associated, mentioned Noemi Arthur of the American Affiliation of Motor Automobile Directors.
A number of the legal guidelines have been litigated. Final 12 months, a federal decide dominated that California could not implement a ban on self-importance license plates it considers “offensive to good style and decency.”
Earlier than 2015, state regulation allowed Maine’s secretary of state to reject self-importance plates that contained “obscene, contemptuous, profane or prejudicial” messages. Bellows mentioned that any transfer to revive a vetting course of must be narrowly tailor-made to move authorized muster.
In her publish on the ACLU of Maine, Bellows sought to make sure Mainers’ rights to freedom of expression, however she mentioned license plates are state property and that the state can regulate them. The state has a compelling curiosity in defending youngsters from “obscene, sexual or violent materials,” she mentioned.
In Maine, many of the roughly 119,000 self-importance plates requested by Maine motorists “present frequent sense and decency” however greater than 400 license plates function exceptions, Bellows mentioned.
She mentioned that as a baby she loved enjoying a recreation on street journeys the place members of the family would observe out-of-state license plates and see who may spot them first.
“It’s not secure for fogeys or grandparents to play the license plate recreation with their children in Maine anymore,” she mentioned. “You’ll be able to’t escape the proliferation of the f-word and worse.”