By DEBORAH BAKER – Jun 27, 2008
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico appeals court on Friday ruled against a Los Alamos man who wanted to change his name to a phrase containing a popular four-letter obscenity.
The man appealed after a state district judge in Bernalillo County refused his request to change his name to "F--- Censorship!"
Judge Nan Nash ruled that the proposed name change was "obscene, offensive and would not comport with common decency."
The man — whose current legal name is Variable — argued on appeal that it was improper government censorship to deny him the name change.
"We do not believe that the district court's action infringes on petitioner's right to free speech," a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said in its ruling.
The man has the right to call himself whatever he wants, unless there's fraud or misrepresentation involved, the judges said.
But once he seeks court approval for a name change, the court has the authority to turn him down on several grounds, including if the name is offensive to common decency and good taste, the judges ruled.
That law was clarified in a 2004 case in the same court that apparently involved the same petitioner. In that case, an Albuquerque man whose name was Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon got the go-ahead from the appeals court to change his name to Variable.