Kentucky Atheist Wins Legal Challenge over Special License Plate

Nov 13, 2019

While residing in Ohio, Ben Hart had the license plate that he sued to receive in Kentucky.
Credit Freedom From Religion Foundation

A federal court ruling has cleared the way for a Kentucky man to get a personalized license plate reading “IM GOD.” 

When Plaintiff Ben Hart relocated to Kentucky in 2016, he applied for a personalized license plate for his vehicle to convey the same message he had on his Ohio-issued license plate.

Hart filed a lawsuit after the Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicles initially refused his request, calling the “IM GOD” message obscene or vulgar.  Later, the state said the plate was rejected because it was “not in good taste,” and could distract other drivers or possibly lead to confrontations.


U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove from the Eastern District of Kentucky found the state Transportation Cabinet violated the First Amendment when it denied the special plate.  The lawsuit was filed on Hart’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Hart is a postal service retiree who lives in Kenton County and identifies as an atheist.