Scalia Law’s Free Speech Clinic is assisting the Pacific Legal Foundation in an important challenge to the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ arbitrary censorship of speech on personalized license plates.
Jon Kotler applied for a personalized plate to celebrate the success of his favorite soccer team—the London-based Fulham Football Club. The team is known by its white jerseys, and Kotler’s proposed license plate read “COYW,” an abbreviation of the club’s commonly used slogan “Come on You Whites.”
To his surprise, the DMV denied his request. Despite the slogan’s popularity and longtime use, the DMV denied Kotler’s request due to its subjective fear that the slogan is hostile, insulting, or racially degrading. A professor of constitutional law at the University of Southern California, Kotler felt the decision violated his First Amendment rights.
“You can’t allow bureaucrats to make decisions that are fundamental to what it means to be an American, and our free speech is one of those things,” Kotler said. “As I tell my students, ours is the only constitution in the world that protects its citizens against their own government. When the government starts to infringe on our rights, that’s when the individual citizen must speak up. If we don’t, we’ll get what we deserve and will have only ourselves to blame.”
Scalia Law’s Free Speech Clinic has been assisting Pacific Legal Foundation in its representation of Kotler in his lawsuit.
“The Free Speech Clinic was created in order to provide students with real, hands-on experience representing clients against infringements upon their freedom of speech,” said Michael Connolly, the director of the clinic. “The faculty and students are thrilled to be assisting Pacific Legal Foundation and Professor Kotler in this important First Amendment lawsuit.”
“By providing law students with experience in cases such as this, the Free Speech Clinic is helping to train the next generation of First Amendment litigators,” said JoAnn Koob, director of the Liberty & Law Center. “The Free Speech Clinic was launched at Scalia Law last fall and it’s been a great first year.”