According to the South Jersey Times, the plaintiff attempted to use the MVC’s website to obtain a personalized plate that reads “8theist,” but her request was allegedly rejected for being objectionable.
However, claims the woman, when she tried “Baptist” on the MVC site, she says it was not flagged by the system.
“There is nothing offensive about being atheist,” she tells the Times. “I should be able to express my sincerely held beliefs with a license plate just like everyone else.”
The driver says her attempts to get an explanation from the MVC went without a response.
A rep for the MVC tells the Times that each plate request is reviewed on an individual basis. Without commenting on this specific plate, the rep says the MVC as an organization has “no objection and [we] continue to issue plates” that express an atheistic position.
However, just last year another NJ driver was initially unable to receive the “athe1st” plate he’d requested from the MVC after a clerk there deemed it offensive. Ultimately, after appealing to the commission, that driver was able to get the plate he wanted, but the plaintiff in the newer case sees this as evidence of a systemic problem at the MVC.
“The commission thus has a practice of denying personalized license plates that identify vehicle owners as atheists,” reads the complaint, “thereby discriminating against atheist viewpoints and expressing a preference for theism over non-theism.”