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. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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