Federal Judge: USC Professor Can Sue CA DMV Over License Plate It Deemed ‘Offensive’

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Signage is seen at the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) February 6, 2009 in Pasadena, California. (Credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Signage is seen at the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) February 6, 2009 in Pasadena, California. (Credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

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A federal judge has ruled a soccer fan can sue the Department of Motor Vehicles for allegedly violating his freedom of speech by banning specialty plates that it considered offensive.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports U.S. District Judge George Wu of Los Angeles in a ruling Thursday refused to dismiss the lawsuit by Jonathan Kotler, a devoted fan of Britain’s Fulham Football Club.

Kotler, a University of Southern California professor, sued the DMV after the agency refused to issue him a license plate lettered “COYW” — short for “Come On You Whites,” the fans’ regular chant for their white-jerseyed players.

The DMV told Kotler the lettering has “connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”

California asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying all vehicle license plates constitute government speech. Wu disagreed.

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