In the case of Walker v. SCV, the Supreme Court of the United States weighed in on the controversy over SCV license plates bearing the image of the confederate flag. You can see stories here and here. The full opinion is here. Justice Clarence Thomas joined the four more liberal members of the Court to make up the five-member majority. Andy Hall and Kevin Levin are all over this at their blogs.
I first covered this case in March of this year.
The crux of the decision appears to be that license plates, being issued by the state, comprise speech by the state, not by the driver. That being the case, the driver’s First Amendment rights aren’t violated by the state regulating what can and cannot be put on the license plates. If the driver feels a need to make a statement, bumper stickers or other types of displays will fill the need. The Court used the case of Prairie Grove City v. Summum, in which they ruled that a government accepting a privately funded monument and putting it on government-owned property is engaging in speech itself, and therefore it has the right to regulate that speech. The Court regarded the license plate issue as essentially following the same principle.
As I said in March, either way the Court went would have been fine with me, so I’m okay with this ruling. We may see further reaction down the road in the form of other states banning the flag logo from their plates. Then again, maybe not.
What’s your opinion?