The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way last week for Cressman to proceed with a lawsuit concerning Oklahoma’s pesky state plates. In 2011, he filed suit against state officials because he does not want to be forced to advertise “images, messages and practices that he cannot endorse or accept.”
A federal judge dismissed the case in 2012, but a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit ruled June 11 that Cressman’s claim is not unfounded.
Cressman previously had paid additional fees for specialty license plates that didn’t display the image in question. He eventually tired of paying the extra fees and tried to cover up the offending part of the plate. That’s when Cressman learned it was illegal to do so, and he could face a $300 fine.
“Mr. Cressman’s complaint states a plausible compelled speech claim,” the appeals court decision states. “He has alleged sufficient facts to suggest that the Sacred Rain Arrow image on the standard Oklahoma license plate conveys a particularized message that others are likely to understand and to which he objects.”
Cressman asserts Allan Houser’s sculpture, Sacred Rain Arrow, is based on a Native American folktale about an Apache warrior shooting an arrow into the sky as a prayer for much-needed rain.
Pray for rain? What a totally whacked-out, ludicrous suggestion! No wonder Cressman wants to make sure no one misconstrues his license plate as an endorsement.