US court okays Kentucky man’s ‘IM GOD’ license plate
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US court okays Kentucky man’s ‘IM GOD’ license plate

Judge rules engraving is speech protected by First Amendment, says state violated atheist Ben Hart’s rights by denying his request

A screen capture from a Fox 19 Now report on a Kentucky man's request for an 'IM GOD' vanity license plate. (Screen capture: YouTube)
A screen capture from a Fox 19 Now report on a Kentucky man's request for an 'IM GOD' vanity license plate. (Screen capture: YouTube)

FRANKFORT, Kentucky — A federal court is allowing a Kentucky man to personalize a license plate with the phrase “IM GOD” after a three-year legal battle over the custom engraving.

Court documents show Ben Hart, a self-identified atheist, set out to get the Kentucky plate in 2016. But Hart’s request was denied by the state transportation department on the basis it violated antidiscrimination guidelines.

News outlets report similar plates had been approved before, including “TRYGOD” and “NOGOD.”

Kentucky’s American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation got involved to help Hart challenge the decision. In an opinion Wednesday by a US District Court in Frankfort, the judge ruled “vanity plates” are private speech protected by the First Amendment and that the state had violated Hart’s rights by denying him the plate.

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