The design of a proposed Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate.
AP/Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
The U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a question of great interest to America’s auto-loving public: Whose speech is that on your specialty license plate? Specifically, when the government issues specialty tags at the behest of private groups or individuals, can it veto messages deemed offensive to others?
The specialty plate at the center of Monday’s case was proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Texas division. The tag design featured a square Confederate battle flag, along with the organization’s name. Texas produces specialty plates for a fee, but the design must first be approved by the state Department of Motor Vehicles board.
The Confederate veterans plate generated considerable controversy.
“Why should we as Texas want to be reminded of a legalized system of involuntary servitude, dehumanization, rape, mass murder?” asked state Senator Royce West at a public hearing about the plates in 2011.