Lawsuit seeks impartial decision-maker in license plate dispute

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Indiana Youth Group challenging the authority of the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles to issue an order of remand on its administrative law judge’s order to restore the LGBT youth group’s specialty license plate.

The ALJ ruled in May that the state violated IYG’s specialty license plate contract when it issue a suspension of the plate last year without giving notice and the group a chance to correct any issues. On June 14, BMV Commissioner R. Scott Waddell issued an order of remand, which effectively reversed the ALJ’s decision, according to a release from the ACLU of Indiana.

“The BMV commissioner acting as the appellate and final authority over a decision that he, in effect, issued, violates the right to have an impartial decision maker in administrative adjudications and therefore violates the fundamental principle of due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director.

Mary Byrne, IYG executive director, thinks the BMV is being “vindictive,” according to the release. “The BMV had a chance to present its side at the administrative hearing, and they lost. The BMV simply does not want IYG to get its plate back, ever."

IYG provides support to youth that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

The ALJ also found that IYG’s actions didn’t constitute the sale of low-digit special plates, as several state senators alleged last year. Those senators sought termination of the group’s contract through the BMV.

The case is Indiana Youth Group Inc. v. R. Scott Waddell, 1:13-CV-981, which was filed in the Indianapolis Division of U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana.



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