A federal district court has ruled that the state of Oregon illegally infringed on a man's First Amendment rights for fining him $500 because he wrote "I am an engineer" in a 2014 email to the state's Engineering Board. The court ruled that the provision in the law he broke is unconstitutional, which opens the door for people in the state to legally call themselves "engineers." Motherboard reports: This dystopian saga dates back to 2013, when Mats Jarlstrom's wife, while driving, was caught by a red light camera near their home in Beaverton, Oregon. Rather than pay the red light camera fine, Jarlstrom, an electrical engineer, spent months researching the specifics of yellow light timing and red light cameras, and learned that his wife had likely been ticketed for running a yellow light. Jarlstrom began sharing his findings on his personal website, at conferences, and even got featured on 60 Minutes. He also wrote several emails to the Oregon Board of Engineers explaining what he had found. In the email, he noted that he was an "engineer."
Rather than looking into whether traffic light timing should be changed, however, the board sent Jarlstrom a warning -- and then a $500 fine for the crime of "practicing engineering without being registered." Jarlstrom had violated one of Oregon's "Title Laws," which states that "no persons may ... hold themselves out as an 'engineer'" unless they are an "individual who is registered in this state and holds a valid certificate to practice engineering in this state." Jarlstrom has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and spent his career working in electronics, but wasn't board certified. He sued the state's engineering board and, last week, a U.S. District Court judge for the District of Oregon ruled that the state's law is unconstitutional. The judge wrote: "The statutes prohibit truthfully describing oneself as an 'engineer,' in any context. This restriction clearly controls and suppresses protected speech, and enforcement of the statute against protected speech is not a hypothetical threat. The term 'engineer,' standing alone, is neither actually nor inherently misleading. Courts have long recognized that the term 'engineer' has a generic meaning separate from 'professional engineer' and that the term has enjoyed 'widespread usage in job titles in our society to describe positions which require no professional training.'" "The judge ordered that the word 'engineer' be struck from Oregon's law, which is 'substantially overbroad in violation of the First Amendment' and specifically noted that Jarlstrom may describe himself publicly and privately using the word 'engineer' and that he may continue to talk about traffic light timing publicly," reports Motherboard.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.