Oregon Unconstitutionally Fined a Man $500 for Saying ‘I am an Engineer,’ Federal Judge Rules

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.”

This dystopian saga dates back to 2013, when Mats Järlström’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, Järlström, 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. Järlström 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.”