Many people are shocked to learn that it’s actually illegal to name babies certain names. A recent article on described the law of naming babies in the U.S. in general and Montana in particular. It turns out Montana has almost no restrictions on babies’ names, while the rest of the U.S. does.

Courts across the U.S. have ruled that the following names are illegal: King, Queen, Majesty, III, Santa Claus, Messiah, @, and Adolf Hitler. The courts give different reasons for ruling the names are illegal.

Statutes and regulations in other states make some other names illegal. In Arizona, a name cannot exceed 141 characters. In Nebraska, a name cannot be “obscene.” And in Florida, if both parents don’t agree on a name, the state will name the child.

There are no such restrictions in Montana according to It says, “Montana has no rules on baby names, but its data system doesn’t allow for special symbols. If a parent wants to use a symbol, once they receive the birth certificate, they can write it in and send it back to the vital records office for approval.”

Why doesn’t the First Amendment protect a person’s right to name his or her child whatever they want? The First Amendment applies to “speech” and naming a child isn’t “speech.”

For a copy of this Ask An Attorney column, including hyperlinks to the referenced resources, go to

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