US court strikes down state policy barring religious themes on license plates
October 11, 2010
A US federal appeals court has overturned a Vermont state law that prohibits motorists from choosing religious messages for their automobile license plates.
About 38,000 Vermont car owners have chosen their own “vanity plates” with a personal message, but Shawn Byrne was not allowed to choose “JN36TN”—a license plate that would have referred to the Gospel verse: John 3:16. That message, state officials said, would have violated a ban on licenses that are either “objectively” or “subjectively” religious.
The 2nd Circuit appeals court said that the Vermont policy, which allows motorists to carry messages on a wide range of other topics, "impermissibly restricts expression from a religious viewpoint."