PEOPLE v. BLAUVELTDocket No. 77-4908.
91 Mich. App. 380 (1979)
283 N.W.2d 745
Michigan Court of Appeals.
Decided July 23, 1979.
Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General, Robert A. Derengoski, Solicitor General, William L. Cahalan, Prosecuting Attorney, Edward R. Wilson, Principal Attorney, Appeals, and Timothy C. Scallen, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for the people. Carl R. Meyer, for defendant on appeal.
Before: N.J. KAUFMAN, P.J., and T.M. BURNS and R.M. MAHER, JJ.
T.M. BURNS, J.
Defendant was convicted in the 35th District Court of a violation of MCL 430.53; MSA 18.663, unlawful display of an emblem or insignia on a motor vehicle.
The statute, § 3 of 1929 PA 269, provides:
"It shall be unlawful for any person to display or permit to be displayed on his or her motor vehicle any emblem or insignia of any organization, association, fraternity, lodge, club or order, unless the owner of such motor vehicle be a member of the organization, association, fraternity, lodge, club or order, the emblem or insignia of which is so displayed: Provided, That the
Under established first amendment analysis, an overbreadth challenge to a statute may properly be accepted when the state attempts to prohibit protected "speech" and not merely conduct associated with speech.
In this case we are dealing with a type of "pure speech". The state is attempting to control the content of certain displays on automobiles by imposing criminal penalties.
The people contend that the statute is a valid attempt to punish individuals who attempt to fraudulently obtain the benefits of membership in an association or organization without actually being a member.
Assuming that prevention of petty frauds is indeed the statute's intent, its sweep is clearly overbroad. The statute does not limit its application to attempts to defraud or gain improper advantage from use of an organization's emblem or insignia. Its ban is absolute without reference to intent or purpose. Every display on a vehicle owned by a nonmember subjects the owner to fine and imprisonment.
If the statute is applied as written, an individual nonmember displaying the emblem of the Boy Scouts, the Knights of Columbus or the Masonic Lodge subjects himself to criminal prosecution. This is so regardless of the absence of any intent to defraud or even if done in connection with other words to express an opinion. We have no doubt that the statute as written sweeps with too broad a broom and it is invalid on its face.
The trial court correctly concluded that the statute is invalid on its face. It does not even attempt to differentiate between legitimate and
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