Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is supporting several bills now pending in the Legislature that would clarify standards for vanity license plates to prohibit language that is obscene or contains racial or other epithets.
Secretary Bellows supports the three vanity plate bills currently pending –
- LD200 http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?PID=1456&snum=130&paper=&paperld=l&ld=200
all of which propose allowing the Secretary to remove offensive or obscene plates from use on Maines roadways and deny future requests.
Vanity plate language is governed by Maines motor vehicle law, which was changed in 2015 to allow the Secretary of State to reject only messages that suggest an association with a public institution, are duplicative, or encourage violence or may result in an act of violence or other unlawful activity.
The First Amendment protects your right to have any bumper sticker you want, but it doesn’t force the state to issue you a registration plate that subjects every child in your neighborhood to a message the government wouldn’t allow them to see in a movie theater, said Secretary Bellows.
Prior to 2015, Maine law did allow the Secretary of State to also reject vanity plates that sought to use language with obscene, contemptuous, profane or prejudicial messages. The legislation currently pending would restore the Secretary’s discretion to deny such vanity plate requests.