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. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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