In a battle for what exactly constitutes First Amendment rights, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas is allowed to reject a license plate with a Confederate battle flag as part of its design. Authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court made a 5-4 decision regarding the issue.

Breyer opined that “When the government speaks, it is not barred by the Free Speech Clause from determining the content of what it says.” His statement backs the courts conclusion that license plates are a form of government speech, not private speech, therefore the government is free to discriminate when it feels that its message is not "on-brand”.

The catalyst for this resolution was a license plate designed submitted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) which featured the Confederate flag. The group’s aim was to honor Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, and argued that the State had violated their free speech. However, according to Breyer "just as Texas cannot require SCV to convey the State's ideological message, SCV cannot force Texas to include a Confederate battle flag on its specialty license plates."

This decision will no doubt affect policy regarding vanity plates in other states.

Cover: Wikipedia.