LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) and Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit after a Kentucky man was denied a personalized license plate.
When Ben Hart lived in Ohio, his license plate read “IM GOD” for 12 years, but when he moved to Kentucky, his request for the same plate letters was denied.
Kentucky DMV officials called the message “obscene or vulgar” and later referred to it as “not in good taste.”
“Under the First Amendment, government officials do not have the authority to censor messages simply because they dislike them,” ACLU-KY Legal Director William Sharp said.
“Just as others may select religious messages, Mr. Hart, an atheist, has a right to comment on religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott said.
With the lawsuit, Hart, the ACLU-KY and FFRF hope to gain approval of the “IM GOD” license plate application and argue that government officials should not be allowed to deny personalized plates based on religious or political viewpoints.
“I simply want the same opportunity to select a personal message for my license plate just as any other driver,” Hart said. “There is nothing ‘obscene or vulgar’ about my view that religious beliefs are subject to individual interpretation.”
View the full lawsuit below:
A spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC), who handles license plates in Kentucky, said that they will not be commenting on “pending litigation.” He confirmed that KTC was aware of the ACLU news release which contains information on the lawsuit but would refrain from commenting out of concern that it could hamper any case they may be a party to in the future.