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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Judge refuses to dismiss Confederate Veterans lawsuit against Florida



The Sons of the Confederate Veterans is trumpeting what they call a major victory this week in its efforts to get a specialty license plate in Florida. (Full story here.)

The controversial group filed a lawsuit in January against Legislature and the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles after lawmakers refused to take action on its "Confederate Heritage" plate (see it here) application in 2008.

U.S. District Judge John Antoon II in Orlando dismissed the complaint against the lawmakers but refused to drop the case against the state motor vehicle department, according to the Dec. 1 order.

The judge's decision "is a huge step forward for our case and the ruling will pave the way for the Confederate Heritage plat to become a reality," said attorney Fred O'Neal, who argued the case on behalf of the group.

The win, though largely procedural, forces the state motor vehicle department to defend the lawsuit and poses a substantial challenge to the entire specialty plate law.

O'Neal said he hopes the Legislature will take action to approve the application or risk the judge usurp its authority to approve plate or vacate the law as an unconstitutional limit on free speech.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:08pm]


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