Woman Wins Suit Against NJ to Use '8THEIST' License Plate | NBC Bay Area
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Woman Wins Suit Against NJ to Use '8THEIST' License Plate

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    NECN
    A sample image of the license plate.

    A woman whose request for a vanity license plate reading "8THEIST" was denied two years ago when state officials said it might be considered offensive will now be allowed to display it.

    A settlement filed in federal court on Friday resolves a lawsuit filed in 2014 by Shannon Morgan. As part of the settlement, the state Motor Vehicle Commission also will issue the following vanity plates or "combinations that are substantially similar": SECULAR, RATIONL, HUMANST, ATHEISM, GODLESS, HEATHEN, HERETIC, SKEPTIC, BLASFMR, REASON, EVOLVE, TRANS, LGBTR.TS, LGBTQ, PRIDE, QUEER, GAYPOWR, LGBTALY, FEMINISM, FEMINST, EQUALITY and 4WOMEN.

    The commission will pay Morgan, who's from Maurice River in Cumberland County, $75,000 to resolve her claim.

    "Initially this was an oversight that was corrected immediately," commission spokeswoman Mairin Bellack said. "The plate was and is still available upon request. The (commission) has issued variations of 8THEIST upon proper request."

    Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop

    [NATL] Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop
    Police in Marietta, Oklahoma are looking for two thieves who carried out an unusual heist. The pair stole nine life-sized stuffed animals after smashing into a flower shop. Surveillance video shows a suspect in a black hoodie hammering out windows and stealing several large stuffed animals. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    Morgan's lawsuit said the Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights when its website rejected the 8THEIST vanity plate. She said she received a message stating her request was ineligible as it "may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency."

    Morgan said she then filled out the online application using the phrase BAPTIST, which the website accepted. She said she sent the agency a letter of complaint by registered mail and made several attempts to contact it by phone, all of which went unanswered.

    A religious liberty advocacy group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, based in Washington, D.C., filed the lawsuit on Morgan's behalf.

    "All Shannon Morgan ever wanted was for the state of New Jersey to stop disparaging her non-belief and cease treating her like a second-class citizen," said Barry Lynn, the group's executive director. "The lesson of this case is simple: The government should treat believers and non-believers equally."

    Dashcam Video Catches Man Shooting at Deputy

    [NATL] Dashcam Video Catches Man Shooting at Deputy
    Dashcam video released Thursday shows a gunfight between a 28-year-old Lagrange, Georgia, man and a Troup County deputy. Deputy Michael Hockett arrived at Matthew Edmondson's home on a wellness check at the request of his father, who was concerned about his well-being. When the deputy arrived, he scaled a fence to go around the house. Edmondson later opened the gate and pulled into the yard before getting out of the truck, and firing a large caliber handgun at the patrol car. Edmondson faces multiple charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, and others. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    Morgan couldn't immediately be reached by phone for comment on Friday.