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Activist Sues After Anti-War License Plate Is Rejected

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GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - A Washtenaw County man is suing the state over its refusal to grant a license plate that says “WAR SUX.”

David DeVarti is joining a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that challenges how plates are judged by the Secretary of State. The lawsuit in Grand Rapids federal court accuses the state of violating the First Amendment by broadly controlling speech.

DeVarti says his request for a six-letter anti-war message was rejected as offensive.

It’s not the first time the Secretary of State has received criticism over its judgment of personalized license plates.

Iraq war veteran Michael Matwyuk, of Kingsford, had trouble getting a plate that uses a variation of the word “infidel.” The 57-year-old said he and his fellow troops were constantly under attack by Muslim insurgents who called American soldiers “infidels.” For him, he said, the term has taken on a special meaning.

“They contended that this was an inappropriate term to put on a plate because of the fact that terrorists are using it,” Matwyuk told WWJ Newsradio 950′s Sandra McNeil.

Shorty thereafter, the state approved Matwyuk’s license plate request, saying any problems were an oversight.

State law bars plates that might be offensive. The state has until Dec. 5 to respond to the amended lawsuit.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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