Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Suit Challenges "In God We Trust" On Mississippi License Plates

Suit was filed yesterday in a Mississippi federal district court by atheist and secular humanist plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi including the state seal-- which carries the motto "In God We Trust" -- on its standard license plate. The complaint (full text) in Griggs v. Graham, (SD MI, filed 6/22/2021) alleges violations of both the free speech and free exercise clauses, saying in part:

The Standard Tag ... sends an ideological message endorsed by ... the State of Mississippi.... The Defendant enforces Mississippi statutes and maintains regulations, policies, practices, and customs that require a car owner to display license tags delivering the State of Mississippi’s chosen ideological message....

The statutes, rules, policies, practices, and customs enforced by Defendant ... are not neutral. Not only is “IN GOD WE TRUST” an expressly religious message, but the public statements of Mississippi officials ... demonstrate that hostility toward the Plaintiffs and other Mississippi car owners who lack religious beliefs was a motivation for selecting the current Standard Tag design.

WLOX reports on the lawsuit.