Man appeals revocation of so-called obscene vanity plate

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vanity plate

New Mexico is not the only state to approve suggestive vanity plates. Is it free speech or just poor taste? Image: tobyotter/Flickr/CC BY

Although it was approved by the state in early 2009, the New Mexico Motor Vehicles Department has revoked Robert Anaya’s vanity plate, which reads “IB6UB9,” for being “obscene.” However, Anaya is fighting back in a court of law.

Vanity plate ruled ‘obscene’

According to KOAT news in Albuquerque, Anaya received a letter from the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles saying that his plate was being revoked because of numerous complaints that it was obscene.

The plate may or may not refer to an act of intimacy between two people. Anya, in his early twenties, insists it refers to an inside joke between a friend and himself.

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Instead of rolling over, however, Anaya decided to lawyer-up. His lawyer, Leon Howard, says the revocation of his plate is a constitutional violation, no matter what the intent of the slogan.

Howard said:

“If you allow the government to start chipping away at our constitutional rights, it can have more serious implications in the future. Mr. Anaya feels bullied by the MVD. … Even then the executive branch cannot change the Constitution.”

Howard further said that, if Anaya’s plate is revoked, the MVD must also revoke any plates displaying a 6 followed by a 9; and that it must cease issuing them in the future.

‘Not in good taste’

S.U. Mahesh, a spokesman for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, said of the plate:

“It’s clear the plate implies an obscene statement and is not in good taste.”

Mahesh went on to say that Anaya could legally affix a bumper sticker with the slogan to his car if he so desires, but not something that is state-issued.

According to Howard, the plate was not a problem until April when Anaya got an auto loan in the state and purchased a new car. The dealership found resistance when it tried to verify the existing plate.

Wider implications?

AOL Autos says the the case “is all about protecting the rights of everyone.” Anaya insists, however, that he is not a crusader for civil rights, except as they apply to his car.

He said:

“I do have a good basis, I think, to bring a claim for civil rights. But at the end of the day, this is about a license plate.”

Anaya and his lawyer have appealed the MVD’s decision to revoke his license plate. They are awaiting a hearing date. Until that time, Anaya has been issued a generic plate.


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