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Kentucky Must Pay Legal Fees in Lawsuit over Specialized License Plate

Freedom From Religion Foundation

A federal judge has ordered the state of Kentucky to pay more than $150,000 in legal fees stemming from a lawsuit against the state Transportation Cabinet. 

The state must pay for work performed by attorneys for the ACLU of Kentucky and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  The two groups represented Kenton County resident Ben Hart. 

Hart, who is an atheist, filed a lawsuit in 2016 after the Transportation Cabinet denied him a personalized license plate that read “IMGOD.”  The Division of Motor Vehicles said the message was “not in good taste.” 

A federal judge ruled last year the decision violated Hart’s First Amendment rights.  U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove's ruling said, "To allow such plates as ‘IM4GOD’ AND ‘LUVGOD’ but reject ‘IMGOD’ belies viewpoint neutrality.”

Hart received his specialized plate just a few weeks ago.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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