According to Fox News on Friday, a New Jersey woman filed a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey because the state's Motor Vehicle Commission rejected her application for her desired vanity license plate. The woman applied for a license plate proclaiming she's an atheist. CBS News also reported on the story.
Shannon Morgan filed the suit Thursday in federal court. Morgan says she was denied a license plate referencing atheism filed suit this week, claiming her online application was rejected because it was deemed potentially offensive. She said she received a message stating that her vanity plate request was ineligible as it "may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency." She indicated that New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights by rejecting a plate reading "8THEIST."
Morgan then filled out another online application using the phrase "BAPTIST" as a test, which the website accepted. Morgan claims in her lawsuit that she sent the agency a letter of complaint by registered mail and made several attempts to contact them by phone. However, she receive no responses from any of her attempts.
The Maurice River Township woman contends that religious words have been approved for others. She gave two examples of such approvals citing her own attempt to test the word "BAPTIST." She also cited the case about American Atheists’ President David Silverman's request to get a license plate reading “ATHE1ST” (with a 1) only to have it rejected for being “offensive.” He appealed that decision and the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission quickly reversed course.
Over the years, there have been other debates about vanity license plates similar to Morgan's case. In 2002, a Florida man was stripped of his plate that read "ATHEIST," but was then allowed to keep it. Morgan is hoping her lawsuit will result in getting her desired license plate even though New Jersey does not have a good track record when it comes to handling vanity license plates requests from atheists.
Hear more about Morgan's case in the video attached to this article.