Woman sues over atheist license plate

NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey woman who 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.

Shannon Morgan, of Maurice Township, said in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that the Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights when its website rejected the plate reading “8THEIST.” 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.”

Morgan then filled out the 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, all of which went unanswered.

Messages and emails left for the Motor Vehicle Commission by The Associated Press on Friday were not returned. A recorded message said the offices were closed in observance of Good Friday.

New Jersey previously, after a brief flap, approved a request from an atheist group’s president for a license plate that read “ATH1EST,” with the number one in place of the letter “i.”

Ayesha N. Khan, the legal director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group representing Morgan, said the fact this has happened at least twice in New Jersey shows the problem has not been fixed.

The Motor Vehicle Commission is “disfavoring atheist plates and not fixing the system. Whatever Internet glitch there might be cannot be the explanation this time,” Khan said, adding that they were seeking the enactment of new agency regulations that include “objective, viewpoint-neutral criteria for issuing a plate.”

More in Local News

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

2 men hospitalized after rollover collision on U.S. 2

Two men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries… Continue reading

Marysville police serve a warrant — across the street from HQ

A man who fled was taken into custody. Police were serving a warrant for alleged drug-related crimes.

If vehicles crash and tumble, rescuers want to be ready

The Puyallup Extrication Team practiced with other fire departments on cars, SUVs and even buses.

Marysville man charged with stabbing wife who sought divorce

Nathan Bradford, 45, found divorce papers while going through the woman’s car.

Most Read