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Justices struggle with free speech case over license plates

The Supreme Court is weighing a free-speech challenge to Texas’ decision to refuse to issue a license plate bearing the Confederate battle flag.

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is struggling with how to resolve a free-speech dispute over a proposed Texas license plate bearing the Confederate battle flag.

The justices heard arguments Monday in a case in which they voiced concerns both about government censorship of people’s speech and offensive messages that could, at worst, incite violence.

Specialty plates brought in $17.6 million in Texas last year, and state officials said there are now nearly 450 messages to choose from.

The state rarely rejects a specialty plate, but it did turn down a request by the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for a license plate with its logo bearing the battle flag, similar to plates issued by eight other states that were members of the Confederacy, as well as Maryland.

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