President Donald Trump’s accidental “covfefe” tweet in May quickly became an internet sensation, and now, Georgia has banned the word from all license plates.
The tweet sparked a series of events, from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer being asked to explain the meaning, to Rep. Mike Quigley introducing the “COVFEFE Act” in attempt to archive presidential tweets.
The original post read, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” but has since been deleted and replaced by Trump with a tweet that reads, “Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!”
Georgia drivers are prohibited from using the word on their license plates according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. The list of more than 8,000 banned license plate combinations include “HoTBODY,” “2SXC4U,” “BUTT,” “KKK” and “PERVERT,” and as of recently, “C0VFEFE,” “C0VFEF3,” “C0VFEVE,” “C0VF3FE,” “C0VF3F3,” “C0VVEFE” and “C0VVEFE.”
The state law mandates the Department of Revenue to refuse any plate combinations that are “obscene according to current community standards,” in addition to the mention of sexual acts, body parts, bodily fluids, drugs, alcohol, criminal acts, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, copyrighted terms, or denigrating of a religion.
Political language is not mentioned in the law, so it is unclear how “covfefe” fits on this list.
This is not the first time Georgia has been questioned about its choice of prohibited license plates. In 2013, a man was turned down after attempting to get a vanity plate that read “GAYPWR.” The state settled the case, upholding his right to the plate.
Gerry Weber, one of the man’s attorneys, said anyone using the word “would be engaging in political speech.” Weber added that “‘Covfefe’ does not fall into any category the state has permission to ban.”
And when the Walker v. Texas case was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, it was decided that license plates are government speech, and therefore not protected free speech under the First Amendment.
Sean J. Young, legal director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said government should not have a say in what political speech is permitted. “What I would tell the government is to get a life,” Young said, according to The Atlantic Journal Constitution.
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