A Canadian man with the last name “Grabher” has filed a lawsuit to get his personalized license plate back after it was determined that the plate, which only displayed his last name, was too offensive to use.
In the lawsuit filed May 11, Lorne Grabher said the Nova Scotia Registrar for Motor Vehicles revoked his license after several complaints expressed that the name was offensive, hateful to women, and could be considered a “socially unacceptable slogan.”
His family had been using the vanity plate for 27 years without issue, that is, until the 2016 U.S. presidential election when President Donald Trump’s infamous “hot mic moment” surfaced during the campaign season. The complaints were received last October and December, on the heels of the 2005 hot mic tape that was leaked to the media in which Trump told then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that he grabs women by their genitals.
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women] — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything,” Trump said in the audio tape.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, who is representing Grabher in the case, argues that the revocation of the plate violates Grabher’s right to free expression as guaranteed to him by the Canadian Constitution, according to the Toronto Sun.
“Grabher and his family were, and remain, deeply offended and humiliated by the cancellation of the plate,” the lawsuit reads. “[It] not only infringed Mr. Grabher’s right to express himself through the plate, but discriminated against Mr. Grabher.”
The lawsuit further explains that Grabher originally purchased the vanity plate over 25 years ago for his late father because their family takes pride in their name, which is rooted in Austrian-German ancestry. Also, Grabher’s son has used a similar license plate in Alberta with no issues.
The motor vehicle department said while they understand the heritage of the name, the general public who views the license plate in passing won’t have that context available to them, and could take offense, the Sun reported. The department maintains the right to reject any personalized license plate that they find to be offensive, socially unacceptable, or tasteless.
While the fact that Grabher had been using the license plate without incident until the leaked Trump audio leads to the obvious conclusion that Trump’s remarks sparked the license plate denial, a spokesperson for the department denied that the sudden revocation was due to Trump’s audio leaks.
The lawsuit seeks a reinstatement of Grabher’s personalized vanity plates and reimbursement of associated costs.