The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Thursday that Texas is within its rights to prohibit a controversial Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate featuring the Confederate army's battle flag.
Texas' specialty plate program counts as government free speech, the court ruled, meaning that an individual's First Amendment rights do not prohibit the state from rejecting designs of a person's choosing. Texas, along with 11 other states, suggested that First Amendment challenges do not apply to government-issued license plates. Drivers can use bumper stickers or decals to express their messages instead.
As USA Today reported, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans drew attention for testing the freedom of speech against government authority: "Who is speaking, the government or the driver? Can entire subjects be limited, or specific viewpoints? And must states give equal time to both sides of an issue — say, 'Fight Terrorism' and 'Jihad?'"
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In a similar controversy, "Choose Life" license plates are offered in 29 states, with two federal courts ruling that North Carolina must also allow "Pro Life" plates, or else ban the both.
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