George Maynard v License Plates

George Maynard v License Plates

George Maynard v License Plates

On September 29, 1972, the State Supreme Court of New Hampshire issued a decision in the case of State v Hoskin. It concerned two drivers. One "Hoskin hammered out and painted over in white paint the words "Live Free or Die" upon 1971 automobile registration plates issued to him, and that [another] the defendant Ely placed tape over the same words, upon 1971 plates issued to her.

Ely and Hoskin said they were expressing free speech under the first amendment.

The State Supreme court ruled otherwise. It said in part, "Obliteration of the motto tends to defeat the establishment of a uniform number plate system, and is analogous to the offense of mutilation of national coins or currency by obliteration of the national motto, "In God We Trust".

The ruling also added that, "We also hold lacking in merit the contention that the defendants were deprived of rights under the first amendment to the United States Constitution. "

End of story? No.

George Maynard

George Maynard was a a Korean War veteran and worked as a printer in Vermont. He and his wife Maxine lived in New Hampshire. They were both Jehovah's Witnesses and viewed the motto on the New Hampshire license plate the motto violated their religious beliefs because it implied that one had to give up his life for the state. To Maynard and Maxine, the only kingdom was God’s kingdom and for this reason they covered up the motto on the license plates of their jointly owned family automobiles. 

On November 27, 1974, police issued Maynard a citation for violating the state statutes regarding obscuring of the state motto. 

On December 6, 1974 George Maynard appeared in Lebanon District Court (NH) to answer the charge. After waiving his right to counsel, he entered a plea of not guilty and proceeded to explain his religious objections to the motto. The state trial judge expressed sympathy for Maynard's situation, but considered himself bound by the authority of State v. Hoskin to hold Maynard guilty.  The judge fined Maynard $25 but suspended it during "good behavior." 

On December 28, 1974, police again charged Maynard was again charged with violating  the license plate statute. On January 31, 1975 a judge fined him $50 and sentenced him to six months in prison. The judge then suspended the sentence provided that Maynard pay his fines. Maynard told the judge that as a matter of conscience he would not pay them. The judge then made him serve 15 days in jail.

Before appearing in court for the second charge, Maynard had received a third citation but received no additional penalty.

American Civil Liberties Union

March 4, 1975,
The Maynards would not stop obscuring the plate and feared additional fines and jail. At the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Maynards sued in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. They sued Neal Wooley, the chief of police in Lebanon, N.H., and the state, alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights. American Civil Union Attorney Richard S. Kohn and New Hampshire attorney Jack Middleton  represented the Maynards.

A week later, on March 11, 1975 a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, preventing further arrests and prosecutions of the Maynards. The case then proceeded to a panel of three federal judges at the district court level.

The three-judge panel also sided with Maynard and issued an opinion in February 1976. The judges determined that the Maynards’ actions qualified as a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. In that decision they wrote, "“Whatever else may be said about the motto ‘Live Free or Die’, it expresses philosophical and political ideas...[and the] Plaintiffs’ desire not to be aligned with these ideas falls within the ambit of the First Amendment.”

Kohn and Middleton had also pointed out that State vehicle license plates did not carry the motto.

New Hampshire Governor Meldrim W. Thompson ordered the state attorney general David Souter to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Souter is now a sitting Supreme Court justice.

US Supreme Court

On April 20, 1977, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of the Maynards. The Supreme Court likened the Maynards’ refusal to accept the state motto with the Jehovah’s Witness children refusing to salute the American flag in public school in the1943 decision, West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette. In that case the court had ruled that the state had violated the First Amendment by punishing students and their parents for the students’ refusal to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

We begin with the proposition that the right of freedom of thought protected by the First Amendment against state action includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all,” Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote for the majority in Maynard.

He continued: “Here, as in Barnette, we are faced with a state measure which forces an individual, as part of his daily life indeed constantly while his automobile is in public view to be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view he finds unacceptable."
George Maynard v License Plates

Court costs and fines

Free Speech v License Plates

Free Speech v License Plates

The Maynards received no compensation for their victory.  The federal district court awarded  $21, 000 in fees to Kohn and Middleton, who were working pro bono for the Maynards. The State refused to pay and the lawyers had to get a  US Marshall to collect from the State.

The Maynards moved from New Hampshire to Connecticut. There an officer cited them for covering up the "The Constitution State" on their car's plate. After the Maynards called their lawyer the they heard no more about the citation.

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Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

We all know his National Anthem
Imagine if he’d played Happy Birthday?

November 27, 1942

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Too often media ask us questions like "Who is the greatest guitar player of all time?" The answer, of course, depends on many things: Who is asking? Who is answering? What does greatest mean?

Perhaps the better questions is "Who is the most influential guitarist of all time?" or simply, "What guitarist influenced you the most?"

Graffiti said Eric Clapton was "God." Woodstock devotees likely answer Hendrix.

I think it's better to avoid the whole question and admit what all must: Hendrix was an amazing, groundbreaking, and immensely influential guitarist.

And Buddy Guy was one of Hendrix's influences. 

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

There were many performers scheduled for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that easily convinced me that I had to attend. The Who. Jefferson Airplane. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The Band. 

At the top of that list was Jimi Hendrix.

Joe Cocker opened day three. Then the skies darkened and torrents fell. Tired, wet, hungry, worried whether our car was still parked on the side of the road eight miles away, having to be at work in 14 hours, friend Tony and reluctantly left Max's field that muddy Sunday afternoon and headed back to Jersey. No Hendrix. 

So did 370,000 other fans in similar straits. 

1967 New York Rock Festival
Jimi Hendrix

I have been very fortunate in many ways and missing Hendrix simply meant I did not see him a second time. On August 23, 1968 I saw the Experience with the Soft Machine, the Chambers Brothers, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Big Brother featured, of course, Janis Poplin. That's how the program listed Joplin. Twice.

Jimi Hendrix

Though no Woodstock, the New York Rock Festival was drier and we didn't have to walk eight miles to get to our seats. A great night.

I was on my dorm's elevator on September 18, 1970 when I heard Jimi had died. I was on the same elevator 16 days later when I heard Janis died. Two of the greatest to many Boomers. Two of the greatest to anyone with ears to listen.

Rolling Stone magazine obit for Jimi Hendrix
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November 27 Peace Love Activism

November 27 Peace Love Activism

Feminism

Voting Rights
November 27 - 28, 1917: responding to increasing public pressure and likely overturning of prisoners’ convictions on appeal, government authorities order unconditional release of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and 20 other suffrage prisoners. (see Dec 6 - 9)
Women serving in combat units
November 27, 2012: the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it was suing the Department of Defense to lift immediately all restrictions on women serving in combat units. The military did not allow women to serve in ground combat units, such as infantry, artillery, armor or as special operations commandos, but recent wars without clear front lines have frequently pushed women assigned to support roles directly into the fighting. (see following)
Malala Yousafzai
November 27, 2012: The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb the car of television anchor Hamid Mir, whom the militant group had earlier threatened because of his reporting on the shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. A Taliban spokesman told reporters that Mir had been following a secular agenda and warned the group would target others like him. Police had defused a bomb found under Mir's car Monday in Islamabad after a neighbor reportedly spotted the device. (see January 3, 2013)

The Red Scare

November 27 Peace Love Activism, 

November 27, 1954: after 44 months in prison, former government official Alger Hiss was released and proclaimed once again that he was innocent of the charges that led to his incarceration. Upon his release, Hiss immediately declared that he wished to "reassert my complete innocence of the charges that were brought against me by Whittaker Chambers." He claimed that his conviction was the result of the "fear and hysteria of the times," and stated that he was going to "resume my efforts to dispel the deception that has been foisted on the American people." He was confident that such efforts would "vindicate my name." (see Dec 2)

Black History

Albany Movement
~ November 27, 1961:  after the holiday, more than 100 Albany State College students marched from campus to the courthouse where they picket to protest the trial of those arrested at the bus depot. A mass meeting — the first in Albany history — packs Mt. Zion Baptist church to protest the arrests, segregation, and a lifetime of subservience. At the end of the meeting they rise to sing, "We Shall Overcome." Student song-leader Bernice Johnson (Reagan) described the effect, "When I opened my mouth and began to sing, there was a force and power within myself I had never heard before. Somehow this music ... released a kind of power and required a level of concentrated energy I did not know I had."

Albany State students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall were expelled for disobeying the dean's orders to use the "Colored" waiting room. Students marched to the college President's office to protest the expulsions and 40 more were expelled for disagreeing with the administration. Gober will later compose civil rights song, “We’ll Never Turn Back.”  (BH, see Nov 28; drr Albany Movement)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
November 27, 1962: speaking in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech using the "I Have a Dream" construction, nine months before his famous speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. (King is also said to have used the phrase even earlier, including a speech in Albany, Georgia, on November 16, but the Rocky Mount speech is the earliest known transcription.) The Rocky Mount Evening Telegram's account of the speech did not mention "I Have a Dream"; it quoted King as saying: "Old Man Segregation is on his death bed. The only thing now is how costly the South will make his funeral."(BH, see Dec 14; MLK, see April 3, 1963)

see November 27 Music et al for more

LSD/Grateful Dead
November 27, 1965:  Ken Kesey began his Acid Tests, a series of parties held in the San Francisco Bay Area centered entirely around the use of, experimentation with, and advocacy of LSD. It may have included the first performance by The Grateful Dead, still known as The Warlocks. This one was held in the small neighborhood of Soquel. It was a small semi-public event advertised only at the local Hip Pocket underground bookstore, (LSD & Dead, see Dec 4)
Whipped Cream and Other Delights
November 27, 1965  – January 7, 1966 – Herb Albert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights the Billboard #1 album. The album cover is considered a classic pop culture icon. It featured model Dolores Erickson wearing chiffon and shaving cream. The picture was taken at a time when Erickson was three months pregnant.
Magical Mystery Tour
November 27, 1967: Beatles released the album Magical Mystery Tour in the USA. (see Dec 17)
“All Things Must Pass”
November 27, 1970: George Harrison’s "All Things Must Pass" released. It was his first solo work since the Beatle break-up in April. The original vinyl release featured two LPs of rock songs as well as Apple Jam, a third disc of informal jams. Often credited as rock's first triple album, it was in fact the first by a solo artist with the multi-artist Woodstock live set having preceded it by six months.

In regards to the album's size, Harrison stated: "I didn't have many tunes on Beatles records, so doing an album like All Things Must Pass was like going to the bathroom and letting it out."

 The album was critically acclaimed and, with long stays at number 1 in both the US and the UK, commercially successful. It was certified 6x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2001. (see Dec 11)

Vietnam

November 27, 1965: tens of thousands of Vietnam War protesters picketed the White House, then marched on the Washington Monument. The Pentagon informed President Johnson that if General Westmoreland was to conduct the major sweep operations necessary to destroy enemy forces during the coming year, U.S. troop strength should be increased from 120,000 to 400,000 men. (see Dec 9)

Watergate Scandal

November 27 Peace Love Activism, 

November 27, 1973: the US Senate voted 92–3 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President. (see Watergate for full story)

FREE SPEECH

November 27, 1974: since 1969 New Hampshire had required that noncommercial vehicles bear license plates embossed with the state motto, "Live Free or Die." Another New Hampshire statute made it a misdemeanor "knowingly [to obscure] . . . the figures or letters on any number plate." The term "letters" in this section had been interpreted by the State's highest court in State v. Hoskin to include the state motto.

George Maynard and his wife, both Jehovah's Witnesses, viewed the motto as repugnant to their moral, religious, and political beliefs, and for this reason they covered up the motto on the license plates of their jointly owned family automobiles. On November 27, 1974, Maynard was issued a citation for violating the state statutes regarding obscuring of the state motto. (see George Maynard for complete story)

LGBTQ

George Moscone and Harvey Milk murdered
November 27, 1978: former Board of Supervisors member Dan White murdered Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall in San Francisco, California. White, who stormed into San Francisco's government offices with a .38 revolver, had reportedly been angry about Moscone's decision not to reappoint him to the city board. Firing upon the mayor first, White then reloaded his pistol and turned his gun on his rival Milk, who was one of the nation's first openly gay politicians and a much-admired activist in San Francisco. (see Dec 4)
Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman
November 27, 2013, LGBTQ: Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman (who were legally married in Massachusetts in 2009 and had a son together) and  Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano, TX, who had been together 16 years, wanted to marry in Texas. Both same-sex couples challenged Texas' constitutional ban on gay marriage in a San Antonio federal court.

In court papers, the couples said the Texas ban violates their right to get married and to enjoy the legal benefits or marriage. They argued a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act suggests that bans on same-sex marriage violate the federal constitution and they want the judge to issue an injunction against enforcing the Texas law.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott pledged to defend the law, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2005. (see Dec 16)

IRAQ

November 27, 2002: U.N. specialists began a new round of weapons inspections in Iraq. (see Dec 7)

Iraq War II

November 27, 2008: Iraq's parliament approved a pact requiring all U.S. troops to be out of the country by January 1, 2012. (see Dec 14)

ADA

November 27, 2012: the New York City Council approved a measure to improve access to taxis for the visually impaired. The council voted unanimously to require that the taxi payment technology include an auditory component. That way, visually impaired passengers will hear their fare from a machine, rather than simply taking the driver's word for it. The equipment will also tell passengers how to pay with a credit card if they wish to do so. (see January 23, 2013)
November 27 Peace Love Activism

STAND YOUR GROUND

November 27 Peace Love Activism, 
Westbrook with grandchildren
November 27, 2013: homeowner 34-year-old Joe Hendrix shot and killed 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook, an Air Force veteran with advanced Alzheimer's, after Westbrook rang Hendrix’s doorbell and tried to turn the handle on the door.

Hendrix confronted Westbrook and when Westbrook, who was practically mute from the Alzheimer's, didn’t respond to Hendrix’s commands, the homeowner fired four shots, one of which hit Westbrook in the chest and killed him.

Georgia's 2006 law stated that a person "has no duty to retreat" and has the right to "stand his or her ground," including the use of deadly force pertaining to self-defense of one's home or property.

On February 28, 2014 District Attorney Herbert Franklin announced that Hendrix would not be charged in what his office called a "tragic shooting death." (NYT article) (see December 17, 2014)

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