'Lewd' bumper sticker prompts lawsuit

Woman considers citation curbing her free speech

Denise Grier will finally get her day in court.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed suit in federal district court on behalf of Grier. The suit alleges that a ticket she received in DeKalb County for displaying a "lewd" bumper sticker on her car is unconstitutional and violates her freedom of speech. The suit seeks to ensure no one else gets cited under the law and asks for punitive damages.

According to the lawsuit, Grier was driving home in March from dinner with a friend when a DeKalb County police officer pulled her over on Chamblee-Tucker Road. The officer wrote her a $100 ticket for having a bumper sticker that read, "I'm tired of all the BUSHIT" on her car. The officer said it violated the county's "lewd decal" ordinance.

"What made me angry was [the officer's] attempt to tell me what I could or could not say," Grier says. "People might not like what I say but I have the right to say it."

The bumper of her white Chrysler Sebring also displayed stickers that read, "Duck Fubya," and "George W. Bush: Making terrorists as fast as he can kill them."

Three weeks after the incident, Grier's ticket was dismissed. That's because the decal law the officer cited was declared unconstitutional in a 1991 case involving a bumper sticker that read "Shit Happens," according to Gerald Weber, legal director of Georgia's ACLU. Weber says the law should've been taken off the list of citations distributed to law enforcement officials.

"It's been 15 years since that decision," Weber says. "Government can be slow, but the message should've resonated to officers on the street by now."

DeKalb County public information officer Kristie Swink wouldn't comment on the pending litigation.

Grier doesn't plan to remove the bumper stickers.

"We have to be able to say what we think," Grier says, "without the fear of reprisal."

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