Court: No, You Can't Curse in Spanish on Your Vanity Plate

Free speech does not cover Maryland man's right to MIERDA
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 31, 2016 3:44 PM CDT
Court: No, You Can't Curse in Spanish on Your Vanity Plate
A file South Carolina license plate and stickers.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles)

An appeals court has ruled that Maryland officials did not violate a driver's right to free speech by recalling a vanity license plate that displayed an offensive Spanish word. The Maryland Court of Appeals unanimously decided Friday that the words conveyed on a state-issued license plate constitute "private speech on government property" that is subject to reasonable regulation, reports the Daily Record of Baltimore. The court also ruled that the word does not meet the standard for protected free speech, notes the AP.

The driver, Washington lawyer John T. Mitchell, argued that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration "has no power to restrict expression" that is not obscene. The license plate bore the Spanish word for excrement, MIERDA, for more than two years before a fellow motorist complained about it in December 2011. (People try to get away with some strange and offensive stuff on their vanity plates.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.