Notable Items:

Respondent: George and Maxine Maynard
Venue: Supreme Court of the United States
Opinion of the Court: Wooley v. Maynard (1977)

Issue(s) Before the Court:

... whether the State of New Hampshire may constitutionally enforce criminal sanctions against persons who cover the motto "Live Free or Die" on passenger vehicle license plates because that motto is repugnant to their moral and religious beliefs.

Petitioner's Claim(s):

... that the District Court was precluded from exercising jurisdiction in this case by the principles of equitable restraint enunciated in Younger v. Harris, 401 U. S. 37 (1971)

Respondent's Claim(s):

... believes to be constitutionally protected activity [obscuring 'Live Free or Die' on a license plate affixed to their automobile] in order to avoid becoming enmeshed in [another] criminal proceeding. ,br> "I refuse to be coerced by the State into advertising a slogan which I find morally, ethically, religiously and politically abhorrent."

Holding(s) and Disposition:

Held: The State's claimed interests in requiring display of the state motto on license plates (1) so as to facilitate the identification of passenger vehicles, and (2) so as to promote appreciation of history, individualism, and state pride, are not sufficiently compelling to justify infringement of appellees' First Amendment rights. The purpose of the first interest could be achieved by less drastic means, and the second interest cannot outweigh an individual's First Amendment right to avoid becoming the courier for the State's ideological message.
Disposition: 406 F. Supp. 1381, affirmed.

Material Facts:

Procedural History:


Burger Majority Opinion (Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Powell, Stevens)

White Concurrance in part, dissent in part (Blackmun, Rehnquist)

Rehnquist Dissent (Blackmun)

Full Recounting of Facts

Burger Majority Full Argument (Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Powell, Stevens)