Still Another Cert Petition: Oklahoma “Sacred Rain Arrow” License Plate

Here is the petition in Cressman v. Thompson:

Cert Petition

Question presented:

Oklahoma compels Keith Cressman to display an image of the “Sacred Rain Arrow” sculpture from his vehicle – via his standard license plate – although he objects to displaying that image. This Court addressed the same issue in Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977), holding New Hampshire violated a couple’s right to free speech by forcing them to display the state motto “Live Free or Die” on their vehicle’s standard license plate over their objection. But the Tenth Circuit distinguished Wooley on the ground that Wooley concerned words, not images.

The Tenth Circuit – creating a conflict with the Sixth Circuit- held artistic images disseminated in significant numbers are not pure speech and must be analyzed as symbolic speech instead. The Tenth Circuit then compounded a pre-existing circuit split on the protection afforded symbolic speech, using an approach different from all others, holding symbolic speech must present an “identifiable message to a reasonable observer” to ensure constitutional covering. And, in applying these novel principles to Cressman’s compelled speech claim, the Tenth Circuit contravened precedent further in holding Cressman’s speech was not compelled because his objection did not match the inference a “reasonable observer” would draw about the image.

The question presented is whether the State can compel citizens to display images that are objectionable to them?

Lower court materials here.

Tenth Circuit Rejects Religious Objector’s Challenge to Oklahoma License Plate

Here is the opinion in Cressman v. Thompson.ah-ok-plate2


1 Opening Brief

2 Appellees Brief

3 Reply Brief

Lower court materials here and here.

Prior Tenth Circuit case here.


Federal Court Rules for State in Challenge to Oklahoma License Plate

Here is the court’s order in Cressman v. Thompson (W.D. Okla.):

117 DCT Order

How Appealing links to news coverage here.

Prior materials in this case are here, here, and here.


Federal Court Denies Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment in Dispute over Oklahoma Indian Arrow License Plate

Here are the materials in Cressman v. Thompson (W.D. Okla.):

95 OPC Motion for Summary J

96 OTC Motion for Summary J

98 Cressman Motion for Summary J

111 DCT Order Denying Motions for Summary J

This case is slated for trial (!).

Tenth Circuit materials here. Earlier district court materials here.

Tenth Circuit Revives Establishment Clause Challenge to Oklahoma’s Indian Arrow License Plate (UPDATED)

Here is the opinion in Cressman v. Thompson. Update — Now with dissent: 12-6151

An excerpt:

This appeal concerns an image stamped on the standard Oklahoma license plate ofa Native American shooting an arrow toward the sky. Appellant Keith Cressman objects to the image as a form of speech and wishes not to display it on his personal vehicles.But Oklahoma law imposes sanctions for covering up the image, and the state charges fees for specialty license plates without it—fees that Mr. Cressman does not want to pay. Because he must either display the image or pay additional fees, he argues that the state is compelling him to speak in violation of his First Amendment rights.

And the briefs:

1-Cressman Opening Brief

2-Oklahoma Answering Brief

3-Cressman Reply

Lower court materials here.

Okla. Man Establishment Clause Effort to Challenge Oklahoma’s Indian-Shooting-Arrow License Plate Fails

Here are the materials in Cressman v. Thompson (W.D. Okla.): 

DCT Order Dismissing Cressman Complaint

Cressman Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Oklahoma Dept. of Motor Safety Motion to Dismiss

Oklahoma Tax Commission Motion to Dismiss

Oklahoma Motion to Dismiss