From the Florida SCV newsletter:

Florida Blockade Runner
Sons of Confederate Veterans – Florida Division
Volume 26, Issue 3 & 4 Fall 2009

Federal Judge Clears Way for Florida Confederate Heritage Specialty Plate

United States District Judge John Antoon II has issued an order that will clear the way for the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) to obtain a specialty license plate from the State of Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The order, just released by the Federal Middle District Judge, upholds the First Amendment right to have the plate issued by DMV, regardless of the inaction of the Florida Legislature in failing to consider or approve the plate and rules against DMV’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The case (Case No. 6:09-cv-134-Orl-28KRS) SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS, FLORIDA DIVISION, INC. JOHN W. ADAMS -vs- JEFFREY H. ATWATER, LARRY CRETUL, ANDY GARDINER, RICHARD GLORIOSO, and ELECTRA THEODORIDES-BUSTLE was filed nearly a year ago following two years of legislative inaction to approve the plate.

"We followed all the procedures, paid the fees required by the state, and did absolutely everything that was required by law and the politicians in the Florida Legislature failed to follow their own statutes. Now it looks like parts or all of those statutes may be stricken by the Federal Court as an unconstitutional infringement of First Amendment rights," stated John Adams, Chairman of the Confederate Heritage Plate Committee of the SCV.

"All Floridians who support the heritage involved with this plate could soon have an opportunity to put this plate on their cars and show the pride they have as Floridians who support our state’s history and heritage," stated Douglas Dawson, SCV Florida Commander.

"Judge Antoon’s order is a huge step forward for our case and the ruling will pave the way for the Confederate Heritage plate to become a reality," stated Attorney Fred O’Neal. "In response to the State’s motion to dismiss, we had to lay all of our cards on the table and present our evidence, which was compelling. The State did the same and the Judge ruled for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights… we’re very pleased with Judge Antoon’s ruling," O’Neal concluded.

Florida’s specialty plate program consists of a 501 (c)3 not-for-profit Florida based organization providing a $60,000 license fee; conducting a survey that requires 30,000 or more Floridians that will purchase the plate (SCV actually obtained over 45,000); a short-term and long term marketing plan; a financial plan for plate proceeds distribution and an audit of the survey by the Auditor General’s office. Orlando-based Advantage Consultants was retained to produce all the components for the proposed plate. Advantage Consultants has produced twenty-five specialty plate’s and maintains a 100% acceptance rate by the DMV and the Auditor-General. Advantage also produced the Martin Luther King "I Have Dream” plate.

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