The state of Georgia is out with a new specialty license tag that honors the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The most notable change from the previous edition, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, is that the new tag more prominently features the Confederate battle flag that has long been a flashpoint in the fight for civil rights. (While the previous iteration of the plate included the flag in the bottom corner of the plate, the new one also uses it as the background.) Here’s the paper with the bureaucratic back-story:
The Motor Vehicle Division of the state Department of Revenue, approves proposed designs for specialty plates. It did not respond to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about what criteria it uses in making those determinations, except to say, via email, that they cannot violate copyright laws. …
In a related context — applications for vanity plates submitted by individuals — Georgia law charges the motor vehicle agency with exercising discretion when it comes to racially sensitive matters. The law prohibits vanity plates judged to ridicule any race or ethnicity. The state also denied a 2012 request by a Ku Klux Klan chapter to “adopt” a highway in north Georgia to help clean it. The chapter then sued the state.
News of the new specialty plate (note the word specialty there; it’s thankfully not the standard issue version) appeared to surprise Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who only last month promised to give Martin Luther King Jr. a more prominent place on the grounds of the state capitol. “I hadn’t heard that so I don’t know anything about it. I’ll have to talk to them about it. I had no information in advance about it,” he said.
The plate costs $80, $10 of which goes to the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. All told, 439 people ponied up the cash to buy the old version over the past two years, according to the state. There are currently about 35 orders for the new one.