2nd Circuit: Reference to John 3:16 on Vt. license plate is protected free speech

ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND NEWS RELEASE
October 8, 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT ADF MEDIA RELATIONS:  (480) 444-0020 or www.adfmedia.org/home/contact

2nd Circuit: Reference to John 3:16 on Vt. license plate is protected free speech

Court strikes down law that prohibits messages which refer to ‘religion’ or ‘deity’

NEW YORK — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued a ruling Friday that strikes down a Vermont motor vehicles statute that prohibits personalized license plates with messages that refer to “religion” or “deity.”  The court issued its ruling in the case of Shawn Byrne, whose application for a personalized plate with the letters and number “JN36TN”–a reference to the Bible verse John 3:16–was denied because it “refers to deity.”  Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit on Byrne’s behalf against Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles officials in 2005.

Although the DMV has approved applications for other plates that use names and numbers referring to a wide array of topics, including religion and secular belief systems, it denied Byrne’s application.

Case Name:  Byrne v. Rutledge

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