Thursday, November 14, 2019

State Must Issue "IM GOD" Vanity License Plate

In Hart v. Thomas, (ED KY, Nov. 13, 2019), a Kentucky federal district court held that a car owner's First Amendment rights were infringed when the state refused to issue him a vanity licence plate reading "IM GOD".  The court said in part:
...[A]voidance of controversy is a valid ground for restricting speech in a nonpublic forum.... However, the Transportation Cabinet has been so inconsistent in its application of § 186.174 that it has ceased to be “consistent with [Kentucky’s] legitimate government interest” in any way. If the Transportation Cabinet genuinely wants to avoid controversy on Kentucky’s highways by preventing “promotion of any specific faith, religion, or anti-religion” from appearing on vanity plates, then it should have denied “IM4GOD”, “ASKGOD”, GR8GOD”, “LUVGOD”. But it did not.... Instead, the Transportation Cabinet has approved multiple vanity plates featuring the word “god”.... This suggests that the law as applied to Mr. Hart is neither reasonable nor viewpoint neutral. To allow such plates as “IM4GOD” and “LUVGOD” but reject “IM GOD” belies viewpoint neutrality.
FFRF issued a press release announcing the decision.