Lawsuit filed in support of Kentucky driver's request for 'IM GO - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Lawsuit filed in support of Kentucky driver's request for 'IM GOD' license plate

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A lawsuit has been filed demanding that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet approve an atheist driver's request for a personalized license plate bearing the words, "IM GOD."

According to a news release from the ACLU of Kentucky, the Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicles denied driver Ben Hart's application for the license plate, initially claiming that the request was "obscene or vulgar," but later stating that the denial was issued because the plate was "not in good taste."

The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of Hart, an atheist, is asking the court to require the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to approve Hart's license plate request. According to the news release, Hart had a similar license plate for 12 years before he moved to Kentucky, where his license plate design was denied.

"Under the First Amendment, government officials do not have the authority to censor messages simply because they dislike them," said William Sharp, ACLU-KY legal director, according to the news release. "And in this instance, personalized license plates are a form of individualized speech equally deserving of First Amendment protection."

"He has a right to select a personalized plate message that reflects his philosophical views, just as any other driver may select an individualized message for their personalized plate," said staff attorney Patrick Elliott, representative of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, according to the news release. "Just as others may select religious messages, Mr. Hart, an atheist, has a right to comment on religion."

WDRB News contacted a representative of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. He said he was aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment, stating that the Cabinet does not comment on pending litigation.

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