Vanity Plate Politics

. October 1, 2014.
License Plates-Pure Michigan

Ann Arbor’s Dave DeVarti, former publisher of Current Magazine, will be driving his Honda Odyssey with a newly minted and finally legal vanity plate. And the plate’s contested message, WAR SUX, has cost the state of Michigan the sum of DeVarti’s attorney fees: $21,500. Originally barred by the state due to the government’s claim that the word SUX had a sexual overtone, U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist rejected the argument, asserting that the Secretary of State guidelines were too broad. Officials cannot deny personalized license plate requests for subjective reasons, however, the state can impose restrictions on requests for plates that contain profanity, parlay explicitly sexual content, or portray a negative image of a racial, religious or socioeconomic group. Meanwhile in Brooklyn, New York's Department of Motor Vehicles is revoking the patently offensive registration of a black Dodge with the license plate HAMMAS. Although the plate is a misspelling of Hamas, the Palestinian flag displayed in the windshield suggests a nod to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group. War, in short, sux.