NEWARK – 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 the office by phone, all of which went unanswered.
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 numeral 1 in place of the letter “I.”