A legal complaint filed Monday challenges the constitutionality of the year-old law that created the "In God We Trust" specialty license plate, saying its supporters receive preferential treatment not available to supporters of other specialty plates.
The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis claims motorists who request the "In God We Trust" plates receive preferential treatment because they do not have to pay a $15 administrative fee that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles collects. The administrative fees are added to other fees whose proceeds promote the causes of the other specialty plates.
The plaintiff bringing the case, Mark Studler, said he pays an additional $40 for one of the popular environmental plates depicting an eagle above the word "Environment." Of the total fee, $25 goes to a state trust to purchase land set aside for conservation or recreational purposes and the remaining $15 is for the administration fee.
The 2006 law establishing the "In God We Trust" plate waives the administrative fee.
"Therefore, those who obtain an 'In God We Trust' license plate are afforded the opportunity to make an affirmative statement through display of the plate without any additional cost while Mr. Studler must pay additional fees for his environmental license plate," the complaint said. Studler is being represented by the Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
As AI previously reported, the state is robbing the state's highway fund to subsidize the issuance of the "In God We Trust" license plates to the tune of about $6 million a year. If you check out the BMV's website, you will see the agency declares the "In God We Trust" to be a regular license plate. Persons renewing their plates while visiting BMV license branches are offered a blue or green plate by BMV employees.