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Casira Copes
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May 15, 2024

Wilmington, DE — The ACLU of Delaware has secured a victory in the case of Kari Lynn Overington, whose vanity license plate “FCANCER” was recalled by the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles in 2021. On May 14, the Federal District Court of Delaware found in favor of Overington, citing Delaware’s regulatory scheme around vanity plates as “unconstitutionally overbroad and arbitrarily enforced.” 

In December 2020, Overington applied for the vanity license plate – a representation of her grueling battle with breast cancer – and received it in the mail two months later. In June 2021, she received a letter from the Delaware DMV that they were recalling the license plate because it failed to “represent the division or the state in a positive manner.” Over the course of several weeks, Overington attempted to advocate with state officials to allow her to continue to use the FCANCER license plate without success. 

ACLU-DE stepped in to represent Overington in 2022 to protect her right to free speech and free expression after she initially began the lawsuit without any legal representation. ACLU-DE Legal Director Dwayne J. Bensing has been the primary attorney representing her, along with Terry Loscalzo of Dilworth Paxon, LLP. 

The Court sided with ACLU-DE that the DMV’s practice of issuing and prohibiting certain vanity plates discriminated against some peoples’ speech based on their viewpoint.        

“DMV's recall of our client's expression of her fight against cancer was an unconstitutional overreach brought on by faulty procedure,” says Bensing. “Make no mistake, when the government regulates private speech, it must do so without regard to the viewpoint of the speaker. Freedom of expression is a bedrock principle of a free democracy, and this court decision was a great win for free speech.”