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[at-l] Special License Plates and Such - Esp. the NC AT One! :)

Well, I reckon I just HAVE to wade in on this latest Special License Tag 
debate - being a lawyer, and never cooking chicken "before" and such, so 
here goes:

1)  The entire darn NC Prison License Plate Print Crew must be on 
non-work release or something, as we still have not gotten the first 
batch of NC Special AT  License Tags mailed out; it literally should be 
any day now - maybe we should each adopt a prisoner there and write them 
long letters about political topics until they print our tags in 
defensive submission! :)

2)  On the larger legal issues, the special license plate concept 
triggers some very interesting lessons in politics and government - as 
one poster said, you do indeed have to draw the line somewhere . . . in 
NC, any special tag requires a special bill from the General Assembly, 
plus a threshhold minimum number of check writing applicants, plus NCDMV 
and Highway Patrol review and sign-off on visibility.  While it has been 
painfully arduous and slow, I really like the way our process works - 
you have to have someone sponsor the bill, and that alone filters out 
some of the wilder ideas . . . and it becomes a positive lesson in 
grassroots democracy . . . other states have their DMV office control 
the entire process, and that is where problems crop up with one group 
getting the greased skids, while other groups get the cold shoulder.  
That invites litigation . . . but, no matter what the process, it is a 
bit of a slippery slope to decide who can and cannot get a tag . . . 
again, having the process start with a special bill that must have a 
sponsor in the legislature is not a bad way to go to avoid the whole 
issue of state agency action/inaction and associated litigation - you 
can't sue a legislator for simply refusing to sponsor a bill . . .

3)  RnR is right in his comment that there is a growing tendency in many 
states where the DMV agency controls the process to no longer issue new 
special tags, or to greatly limit them, based on fears of being sued by 
other groups who want to be part of the process where the agency does 
not want to serve that group (a good eample is the KKK asking for tags 
in some southern states).  Another area where this is cropping up is in 
the state roadside cleanup programs - NC has not been able to escape 
that one, since that program is run by DMV, and they have to make the 
choices . . . I believe the KKK sued to get a sign put up documenting 
its segment of raod that it adopted for clean-up and won . . . while my 
civil libertarian values support such a decision, it is humbling to 
realize that in my honest gut I wanted them to lose - I reckon that just 
proves we all have our own personal limits when it comes to our own 
concepts of "free speech" . . . and "free speech" issues are only really 
sticky in the eyes of the law when they involve state (agency) action or 
inaction tied to some form of speech . . . never easy issues, but darn 
important ones.

4)  In a very real and humbling sense, it is worth 
contem(license)plating the hard fact that I probably could have gotten 
more people to sign up for a special KKK license tag, or a special 
right-to-life tag, or a special abortion rights tag, or a special 
"support our troops" tag, or a special "give peace a chance" tag - than 
for the special AT tag that is soon to be a reality on NC registered 
vehicles . . . when you think about it that way, it is a sobering and 
humbling - and perhaps mind expanding perspective.

Anyhow, I reckon Felix can now become the national ad-man for Chik-Fil-A 
. . . and I will go back to writing NC prison print shop prisoners 
nastly letters! :)


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