ACLU Reaction to Supreme Court Ruling in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans

June 18, 2015 11:00 am

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NEW YORK – The Supreme Court issued its ruling today in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, a case about whether specialty license plates constitute government speech. Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, offered the following reaction to the ruling:

“Today’s decision is about more than one specialty license plate with the Confederate flag. The same authority that the court upholds today has been used by other states to allow ‘Pro-Life’ specialty license plates while rejecting specialty license plates that say ‘Respect Choice.’ The majority justifies that discrimination by describing the license plates as government speech. If so, then Texas state officials meant to express their support for rival state universities when they approved specialty license plates referring to the University of Oklahoma, for example. It is safe to say that many Texans would be surprised and disappointed if that were the case. For states like Texas, specialty license plates have always been about the money, not the message. By allowing states to censor private speech they deem offensive, today’s decision is a step backwards for the First Amendment. Hopefully, future cases will limit today’s result to specialty license plates.”

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