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State rejects “WAR SUX” license plate, Ann Arbor man sues

Personalized license plates on the wall of Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.
Creative Commons
Personalized license plates on the wall of Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.

Another Michigan man who was denied a personalized license plate the state says could be considered “offensive to good taste and decency” is suing on free speech grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union is already suing the Secretary of State over a similar casein federal court in Grand Rapids.

In that case, Iraq war veteran Michael Matwyuk had trouble getting a plate that uses a variation of the word "infidel." The state approved it in September after the ACLU filed the complaint. The state said any problems were an oversight. It filed a motion to dismiss the case.

But ACLU staff attorney Dan Korobkin says Ann Arbor resident David DeVarti was still denied his personalized plate after the state granted the “infidel” one.

“Although they try to get out of this lawsuit by just sending the license plate that Mr. Matwyuk had ordered, the state is continuing to enforce this unconstitutional law where they get to play censorship over people’s speech on their license plates,” Korobkin said.

DeVarti wanted his plate to say “WAR SUX.” He'snow filed to join Matwyuk's case.

The Secretary of State’s Office declined to comment on the open case. The state has until Dec. 5 to respond to the amended lawsuit.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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