Sir, Simon Schama writes that “every New Hampshire licence plate bears the slogan ‘Live Free or Die’ ” (February 6).
Is that correct? The constitutionality of compulsory display of the New Hampshire slogan was tested in a lawsuit brought by two Jehovah’s Witnesses. The plaintiffs had been arrested for obscuring the state slogan on their licence plates. They objected to the slogan as repugnant to their beliefs, and argued that they should not be compelled to display it.
The US Supreme Court agreed with them in Wooley v Maynard (1977).
Although the practice is not prominently featured on the NH Department of Motor Vehicles website, the state has issued various licence plates without the slogan.
The Huntington Library,
San Marino, CA, US
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