God and the BMV

November 21, 2008
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Who would have thought God would be such an issue at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles?

The religious deity and the use of the word “God” continue to prompt Indiana residents to file suits – one challenging the lack of extra fees to get the “In God We Trust” license plate; the other fighting for a specialized “BE GODS” plate.

Here’s an interesting dilemma the BMV just might face: what if someone wants to personalize an “In God We Trust” plate with the word “God?” According to BMV Commissioner Ron Stiver’s statement released earlier this week, anyone applying for pro- or anti-deity messages won’t be approved under a new regulatory process that took effect earlier this month.

An interesting side note on the new process – Stiver says the standards took the effect of the law, but the law only grants the BMV the authority to refuse to issue a plate that “carries a connotation offensive to good taste and decency; or would be misleading.” I.C. Section 9-18-15-4. In fact, the administrative hearing officer assigned to hear Elizabeth Ferris’ rejected renewal for her “BE GODS” plate wrote in the recommended order that the BMV doesn’t have a statutory grant of authority to prohibit messages solely based on a reference to a god or religion. Do messages with a religious or anti-religious phrase fall under the “offensive” exception or are they being rejected by one of the new standards that aren’t listed in statute?

How can the BMV reject the word “God” on a license plate that already has the word “God” on it? If they use the argument it is “offensive” to people, then is the “In God We Trust” plate considered offensive under the new standards the BMV adopted? If so, how will it reconcile that with the fact the General Assembly created the “In God We Trust” plates?
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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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