Driver wins legal battle to keep number plate with subtle 'profanity'

The breast cancer survivor did not back down after the number plates were recalled.

The number plate which reads 'FCANCER' set against a backdrop of an Australian highway.
Kari Lynn Overington, 43, was granted permission to use the 'FCANCER' number plates after winning the lawsuit. Source: The Associated Press

A breast cancer survivor has won a legal battle to keep her number plates after it was ruled that discrimination was at play when authorities issued a recall for the apparently controversial plates.

Kari Lynn Overington, 43, had her 'FCANCER' number places recalled in 2021 due to the "perceived profanity" they contained, however, the US woman filed a lawsuit challenging the decision of local transport authorities.

After the American Civil Liberties Union took up her unusual case, it was ultimately decided on Tuesday (local time) that she was permitted to freely use the number plates again. A federal judge ruled the Delaware Vanity Licence Plate program, which allowed officials to discriminate against certain viewpoints in the approval process, to be "unconstitutional".

"I'm very grateful that I was able to have my voice heard. What they were doing was wrong,” Overington told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Overington claimed the F in the number plates stood for 'fight' — meaning her number plates read 'fight cancer'. However, Department of Transportation (DT) officials pushed against this argument and pointed to social media posts which showed Overington wearing a T-shirt which read 'f**k cancer' and celebrating her 'f**k cancer' anniversaries.

The DT considered getting rid of all vanity plates — ones which bear a distinctive or personalised combination of letters and words — in the state, however, that was not actioned.

Officials tried to argue that vanity plates constitute "government speech" and can therefore be regulated as officials see fit. However Judge Gregory Williams rejected the argument, granting Overington permission to use her number plates again.

Maybe the F now stands for freedom.

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