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.)