People witness loved ones transform on their journey with cancer and come out of the other side as more resilient individuals with a shift in perspective. What happens when bravery is tested in a court hearing? How does one transition the battle from the hospital to the courtroom? If a cancer survivor can battle a faceless condition successfully, lawyers are no longer intimidating folks.
Kari Lynn Overington filed a lawsuit against Delaware government officials who revoked a vanity license plate issued to her due to the profane language.
The state transportation security declared that no profanity is permitted on license plates even if the message is a powerful stance against the dreaded medical condition. According to their criteria, “FCANCER” does not meet the guidelines of what is deemed acceptable.
Initially, the breast cancer survivor applied for a license plate with “FCANCER” and it was issued successfully.
However, a year later, she received a letter from the manager at the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Dover informing her that it “does not represent the division and the state in a positive manner.” The plate will be recalled as it is considered offensive and issued by mistake.
Overington contacted Nicole Majeski, the state Transportation Secretary, for assistance. She fought off the claim that the license plate is offensive.
“My vanity plate receives positive feedback everywhere I go, and I have had more than a few deep conversations with complete strangers about my cancer and how cancer has touched their lives because of it. The community of cancer warriors, cancer survivors, and those who love them is far-reaching and very supportive,” Overington said.
Unfortunately, she did not get the desired response. Majeski supported the act of recalling the license plate as officials have the responsibility to ensure that they are not rejecting license plates that include “obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, hate speech or fighting words.”
Overington argued that “F” can represent many words that are not profane such as “freedom” and her license plate does not explicitly spell out the swear word. She also exposed the double standards saying that DMV also implied profanity on electronic signs to encourage motorists to drive more cautiously. Some of those phrases include “Get your head out of your Apps” and “Oh Cell No.”
Refusing to back down, Overington filed a lawsuit indicating that the state officials had violated “her First Amendment rights by imposing content-based and viewpoint-based restrictions on her speech.”
Judge Richard Andrews ruled that Overington would need to amend her complaint to explicitly state the defendant was being sued in their official capacities rather than the individuals.
Referring to a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court case, this case becomes a constitutional issue where it challenges the law to restriction-free expression and “unbridled discretion in the hands of a government official.” Constitutional conflicts need to be addressed with lawyers representing both parties.
Although her strength in representing herself is evident in the court hearing, she will need legal support to win this battle.