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Kentucky to Pay Man $150,000 For Denying “IM GOD” Vanity License Plate

Here in the world of gearheads, the vanity tag can be a fun thing. Sometimes, people really get creative in their license tags. Having something as simple as a witty vanity plate can make a vehicle that much more appealing.

Some folks even use their vanity tag to make some sort of a statement. The beauty of the matter is that, within reason, we can use our license plates to express who we are. For one Kentucky man, he would be turned down that ability. The result would end in a settlement of over $150,000.

The Court Rules Against the State

The United States District Judge has ruled against the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in the case regarding a vanity tag. The Cabinet has been ordered to pay the attorney fees for a man that was denied a personalized license plate. The contents of the plate were “IM GOD.”

Albeit controversial, everyone has the right to advertise their beliefs on their tag. Some tags will be rejected if they take it too far. After all, some things are in poor taste and aren’t going to be supported by the government for public consumption. However, after finding that this plate was “obscene, vulgar or in bad taste,” the issue would head to court.

Upon moving to Kentucky, Hart wanted to retain the plate that he had held in Ohio for some 12 years. The argument cited that Kentucky allowed plates like “IM4GOD” and “LUVGOD” but “IM GOD” was rejected. This is a clear situation that showed discrimination against Hart’s personal belief system as an atheist.

The case ruled that the powers denying the plate infringe on Hart’s first amendment rights. It isn’t in the interest of the state to determine what someone’s beliefs are. It doesn’t matter if the beliefs are controversial or not. As long as nobody is in imminent danger because of them, they’re covered under free speech.