Indiana officer's '0INK' license plate is government speech, Indiana Supreme Court rules

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By: Brian Slodysko/Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s highest court says state officials acted within their rights when denying a police officer a vanity license plate that said “0INK,” which the officials deemed offensive.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Friday that messages on state-issued license plates amount to government speech. It cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that found Texas hadn’t violated free speech rights by refusing a license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag.

Greenfield officer Rodney Vawter sued in 2013 after the plate, meant to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to his job, was revoked. A Marion County judge initially ruled in his favor, prompting the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to suspend Indiana’s personalized license plate program.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represents Vawter, says the BMV has approved other questionable plates.