You'd think this story came from The Onion rather than a San Diego news report, but:
California drivers may soon come bumper to bumper with the latest product of the digital age: ad-blaring license plates.
State lawmakers are considering a bill allowing the state to begin researching the use of electronic license plates for vehicles.
The device would mimic a standard license plate when the vehicle is moving but would switch to digital messages when it is stopped for more than four seconds in traffic or at a red light.
In emergencies, the plates could be used to broadcast Amber Alerts or traffic information.
The author of SB1453 says California would be the first state to implement such technology if it decides to adopt the plates on a large scale.
Supporters say license-plate advertising could generate much-needed revenue in a state facing a $19 billion deficit.
The moron who came up with this idea is Senator Curren D. Price Jr.
I have three words for the Senator: Wooley versus Maynard, the famous free speech case in which a New Hampshire resident violated state law by obscuring that portion of the license plate reading "life free or die." The court explained that defendant Maynard "refuse[d] to be coerced by the State into advertising a slogan which I find morally, ethically, religiously and politically abhorrent." The court then held that:
We are thus faced with the question of whether the State may constitutionally require an individual to participate in the dissemination of an ideological message by displaying it on his private property in a manner and for the express purpose that it be observed and read by the public. We hold that the State may not do so.
Granted, the messages Senator Price envisions are commercial rather than ideological and I have no religious objections to commercial advertising such as those Maynard had against New Hampshire's slogan. Even so, I can assure the Senator that I, for one, would happy to bring a test case against implementing this asinine idea. After all, says Woodley:
The right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of the broader concept of "individual freedom of mind."
I predict that if this idea were to go forward (and the bill authorizing the study has already passed the senate 25-0!), California will end up spending much more money unsuccessfully defending its constitutionality than is raised in revenues.