Wednesday, 10 April 2019

CA Law Professor Sues DMV For Rejecting License Plate Abbreviation For 'Come On You Whites'

A professor of constitutional law at the University of Southern California who had the California Department of Motor Vehicles reject his request for a license plate with his favorite soccer team’s slogan, “Come on you whites,” abbreviated “COY-W,” is suing the DMV.
onathan Kotler, a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court, is claiming the DMV violated his First Amendment rights, and with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed his suit on Tuesday.
According to the DMV, the license plate Kotler requested, which refers to the slogan of the Fulham Football Club in West London, England, has “connotations offensive to good taste and decency,” The Daily Mail reported. The Daily Mail added, “Kotler has held Fulham season tickets for the last 20 years and has made countless trips from Los Angeles to visit the team's home turf at Craven Cottage in London.”
The lawsuit points out:
Fulham is one of many sports teams that is described by the color of its uniforms. In England, Chelsea is known as “the Blues,” and Liverpool is known as “the Reds.” New Zealand’s famed rugby team is known as the “All Blacks.” Fulham’s official hashtag on Twitter is #COYW. The phrase is used in letters signed by Shadid Khan, the team’s Pakistani-American owner. National media outlets such as NBC use the term, reporting that “newly promoted Fulham has already shelled out nearly $50 million this summer as the Whites look to secure Premier League status.”
 
Pacific Legal Foundation released this statement:
Despite the slogan’s popularity and longtime use, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) denied Jon's request due to its subjective fear that the slogan is hostile, insulting, or racially degrading. That is absurd. Anyone who knows what "COYW" stands for knows its meaning is innocent. But whenever government officials are the speech police, they unavoidably make bad decisions: sometimes absurd, often unfair, and always biased. The DMV’s attempt to make itself the speech police led to unintended consequences. You can call Jon a sports fan or a First Amendment expert, but the DMV’s misguided efforts to regulate license plates have misbranded Jon as a racist.
 
Kotler said in a press release, “You can’t allow bureaucrats to make decisions that are fundamental to what it means to be an American, and our free speech is one of those things. As I tell my students, ours is the only constitution in the world that protects its citizens against their own government. When the government starts to infringe on our rights, that’s when the individual citizen must speak up. If we don’t, we’ll get what we deserve and will have only ourselves to blame.'
UCLA professor Eugene Volokh, who specializes in the First Amendment, commented, "“Unless it’s very clear that they have been interpreted in a very precise and narrow way, the terms [‘offensive to good taste and decency’] are potentially so vague and discretionary that they’re likely to be unconstitutional."
Fulham Football Club was founded in 1879,the oldest football club from London to play in the Football League. They wore red and white colored uniforms in 1900, then changed to all white in 1903. They currently wear white shirts and socks and black shorts. They have had various nicknames, including The Cottagers, (they play in the football stadium Craven Cottage), The Whites, and The Lily Whites

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