Third Party & Independents Archives

The ACLU Attacks a License Plate

When the American Civil Liberties Union sues the government it’s often because they believe the public is getting the raw end of a deal, but today’s dial-a-lawsuit from the most radical interest group in the country was motivated by the government’s decision to do something for the public…for free.

The state of Indiana recently began issuing a beautiful new license plate that has white lettering over a blue background and the message "In God We Trust" emblazoned over the American flag. It has become one of the state's most popular plates as a half million tags have been issued since January. That's about 28% of all the license plates on the road according to WISH-TV Indianapolis.

Of course, the ACLU has a problem with this though they say it's not because of the "In God We Trust" message. There objection to the plate is that drivers who purchase them don't have to pay the $15 administrative fee that's tacked on to all the other types of Indiana plates.

Try to find the logic in their argument, as I couldn"t, in this statement from legal director Ken Faulk:

"There is no cost assessed for the In God We Trust plate. So, on the one hand, you say if you want to make a personal statement by having In God We Trust plate it's free, free in the sense that it's no additional cost, over a regular plate. But if you want to make a personal statement for every other plate you have to pay a cost."

So even though Indiana motorists have a variety of license plates to chose from and are under no obligation to use the above-mentioned style plate, the Constitution has been violated because you don’t have to pay an unnecessary bureaucratic tax for one?

They won't admit it, but this lawsuit perfectly highlights the ACLU’s distain for the most innocuously harmless phrase in our country: "In God We Trust." It's a phrase that's rooted in our tradition and has endured centuries of relative peacefulness that most other countries around the world could have only dreamed of through countless eras of holocausts, depressions, and tyrannical rule where "In God We Trust" certainly wasn't the motto in the lands where the architects of mass genocide believed they were gods.

The state of Indiana has simply allowed its drivers the opportunity to enjoy that message on a specialty license plate for no administrative fees. You still have to buy the plate. You still have to register your vehicle every year. You still have to do everything else that every other driver in the state has to do, rich or poor. But you save $15, and because of that the ACLU is taking Indiana to court.

I just want to know one thing: since when has a gesture by the government to remove some kind of fee been considered an offense against our civil liberties?

Posted by Scottie at April 24, 2007 5:37 PM
Comments
Comment #218292

By giving away a cute plate that promotes a religious statement aren’t they dangerously close to ‘sponsoring’ a religion? Isn’t that a no-no according to our rule book? How about a free plate that says “God is a myth” or one that says “Bush is Evil”? Why not give away support for ALL ‘religious’ expressions? Look: if it costs 15 dollars in administrative fees to get the plate of your choice how come it doesn’t cost 15 dollars if your plate promotes a religious statement? If you don’t see the problem here it’s because you have a problem with the ACLU - not because the argument against promoting religion is weak.

Posted by: EdB at April 24, 2007 6:26 PM
Comment #218298

One problem i see here is a lot of speciality plates DARE history preservation and the like a part of that fee goes to the group it supports.. so if they charged for this who would that donation go to? I mean in honesty, oretty much every organized and not so organized religion belives in a god figure so how would they split the money? ANd if they collected money for it, then donated it to a group of church groups the seperation ppl would be having a field day

Posted by: RHancheck at April 24, 2007 6:49 PM
Comment #218303

Boy, just when I thought all the worm cans had been opened……. and we’re right back to CHOICE again.
I’m sure that everyone pretty much knows that the fees go for administration costs, or separate dyes, or whatever is used to stamp out the plates…..or maybe in some guys drawer…whatever !
Simple thing would be to charge the fee for the plate….if that is what the fuss is all about. That would be too simple, though, for obviously enough people have complained enough to cause a predicament.
I think way back a long time ago, the ACLU might have done some good things, but seems they have jumped the tracks and taken a dirt road.
When is someone going to demand a change in our money?????

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at April 24, 2007 7:50 PM
Comment #218304

If the state of Indiana wants to give away the tag for free that’s their business. Not the ACLU’s, Federal Government’s or anyone else’s not from Indiana.
The ACLU just doesn’t like any mention of God (or at least the Christian God) and that’s the only reason their upset. They’d sue if Indiana charged $100 extra for the tag. Just because the word God appears on it.
Bet they would be saying a word if the tag read “In Allah We Trust”. And Indiana didn’t even charge their usual fees for their regular tags.

RHancheck
If Indiana charged extra for the tag I reckon they would have to give the money to some church. The question then would be which church. And anyone they choose would insure a lawsuit claiming they they are promoting one religion over another. But that’s not what the ACLU is upset about. Even though they won’t admit it they’re all bent out of shape because the word God appears on the tag.
But it doesn’t say who’s god the person that has the tag is trusting in. Different religions worship different gods. And they all claim that they’re god is the one true God. Given this it can be argued that no particular god is being promoted.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 24, 2007 7:52 PM
Comment #218307

RHancheck,
Could the money be donated to an organization without a religious affiliation, but with a worthy cause in the eyes of the sponsors of the plate?

I know in Massachusetts there are plates that have the Red Sox logo, but instead of giving the money to the Red Sox (they are a private for-profit company), the money is donated to the Jimmy Fund.

Everyone,
Because of the First Amendment, any government in this country cannot favor any religion over another and cannot favor religion over no religion; so the current policies of the state of Indiana are unconstitutional and will most likely be changed as soon as the courts hear the American Civil Liberties Union’s suit to help protect the freedoms we cherish that make the United States the great and wonderful nation that it is.

Posted by: Warren P at April 24, 2007 7:59 PM
Comment #218308

One more thing, couldn’t the state make all special plates free, eliminating the $15 charge on special plates?

Posted by: Warren P at April 24, 2007 8:01 PM
Comment #218309

The motto is on all American coins. It is official. I think President Lincoln put it there.

Posted by: Jack at April 24, 2007 8:07 PM
Comment #218311

That doesn’t make it right, Jack, and you know that.

Should we make a list of all of the things that were ‘official’ over a hundred years ago that we realized later was wrong?

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 24, 2007 8:15 PM
Comment #218316

Does anyone know why the state of Indiana made this special plate free of charge and yet would charge additional money for the rest of the special plates? Sorta makes ya wonder what they are thinking, doesnt it. Anyway lets at least be thankful the ACLU is here to address such issues.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 24, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #218318

The Ohio State House has “With God All Things Are Possible” The ACLU sued and lost the motto is still on the State House. “In God We Trust” is the U.S. motto. There are many religions in this world each with a god they trust, from the Judeao Christian God to Satan, ACLU leave it alone.

Posted by: KAP at April 24, 2007 9:04 PM
Comment #218327

Rhinehold

It is a long established tradition. It doesn’t hurt anything and makes most people happy. If you like it better, you can think of it as, “In God we trust; all others pay cash.”

Posted by: Jack at April 24, 2007 10:12 PM
Comment #218328

WarrenP,

“Because of the First Amendment, any government in this country cannot favor any religion over another and cannot favor religion over no religion”

WRONG!

The First Amendment forbids Congress to pass a law requiring everyone to adhere to a single religion sanctioned by the government.

Posted by: traveller at April 24, 2007 10:18 PM
Comment #218329

Jack-
American presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt strongly disapproved of the idea of evoking God within the context of a “cheap” political motto. In a letter to William Boldly on November 11, 1907, President Roosevelt wrote: “My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege … it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements.”

It might make for a cute story that somebody converts because they see “In God We Trust” on the currency, but typically it’s just ignored. Do bankers become more saintly by their association with large amounts of such blessed coin and cash? Do the rich become more virtuous as they pay for all their various wares, their virtues and vices?

Should the state of Indiana subsidize a personal statement of religious sentiment, especially it doesn’t subsidize other special plates?

And does it really bode well for church or state when church is cheapened, and the state has the pretention to take on such airs of piety?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 24, 2007 10:18 PM
Comment #218332

Forgive me for this, but let me clarify: the linked text is supposed to be a quote from the source, not my own writings.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 24, 2007 10:24 PM
Comment #218335

I think the state of Indiana and the ACLU deserve each other.

And if,indeed, this country does “Trust in God”, it sure as hell has a funny way of showing it.

Which reminds me of the bumper sticker:

“God is coming, and boy, is she pissed!”

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 24, 2007 10:40 PM
Comment #218339
It doesn’t hurt anything and makes most people happy.

Which is why we aren’t a pure democracy. It’s the rights of the minority that need protecting. That a law makes ‘most’ people happy at the expense of the minority’s rights is not what this country is suppose to be about.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 24, 2007 10:54 PM
Comment #218345

It seems to me that the state of Indiana IS trying to play politics with their license plates. It’s only obvious.

In addition to the “In God we Trust” plate that can be obtained without a fee, you can also get a “Support our Troops” plate—also without a fee.

Washington DC does something similar with their “Taxation without Representation” motto on plates, but for that you have to pay $10.

I don’t really AGREE with this kind of behavior from Indiana, and personally think they should charge the same fee for everybody who isn’t getting a personalized plate.

On the other hand, if the state officials (who are either elected or appointed by someone who was) decided to do this, I don’t see how the ACLU has a legitimate case.

It would be totally different if someone was forced to put a “In God We Trust” plate on their vehicle. It’s a matter of choice, so it’s really the freedom of religion and speech which is the issue here.

In any case, the courts have already decided again and again that references to “God” by politicians or state agencies is not an attempt to establish a state religion, which is all the Consitution forbids.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 24, 2007 11:12 PM
Comment #218346

Well, I live out in the “sticks”!

I get my drivers license and my auto license plates in the same office where I registered to vote. I can still remember all hands standing still and everything falling totally silent when I said, “DEMOCRAT” while I was registering to vote (at the same time I was changing my drivers license and my license plates on my car and pickup).

So, YES, I can see a problem here that the ACLU should stick there nose into. I can just imagine, being agnostic, having to stipulate that “I want the plates that don’t promote a false god”! Then having to hear that, “Oh, Mr. Bru……. you know this will cost you an extra $15.00”………….well, anyone that doesn’t see the problem with that, will never see the problem with that!

Posted by: KansasDem at April 24, 2007 11:14 PM
Comment #218348

“It’s the rights of the minority that need protecting.”

Rhinehold,

If only I could convince you that includes the staples of life we’d be “fast” friends.

OK, that’s a low blow, but you’re right. Just because the “majority” favors something does not make it the “correct” thing to do. Individual rights set us apart from most nations. To tax any person on a higher or lower scale based on religious beliefs is a total violation of our constitution.

Posted by: KansasDem at April 24, 2007 11:26 PM
Comment #218350

Actually, KansasDem, I agree with you for once.

I don’t think you should have to pay an extra $15 for a message-free license plate, and I don’t agree with Indiana’s policy on this at all.

But I also don’t see how the policy in any way violates the Constitution’s establishment clause—it just doesn’t.

The proper way to address such an injustice is not the courts, but democracy. If the people of Indiana don’t like it (and they are the ones effected), then they should elect different leaders. If they do like it, then it’s not the role of the ACLU to come in and strong-arm them through the courts over a non-Constitutional question.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 24, 2007 11:33 PM
Comment #218358

Well, I actually live in Indianapolis and was going to write about this but broke my hand the other day and, well, typing a lot at this slow of a speed is testing my patience…

However, remember that the administrative fees of a plate are there to pay for the extra cost of printing and maintaining a stock of these plates. Until the In God We Trust plates were issued, anyone wanting a ‘vanity’ plate had to pay the fee except:

“Disabled American Veteran”
“Ex-POW”
“Hoosier Veteran”
“National Guard”
“Pearl Harbor Survivor”
“Purple Heart”

Indiana has recently added the no-fee “Support Our Troops” plate. There are a total of 75 plates that we can choose, so the number of non-administrative plates until now had been small.

Now, for these previous plates the taxpayer was expected to pick up the cost of the extra fee because of the significants and limits on the plate. Not just ANYONE could get them. I don’t qualify for a Disabled American Veteran plate because my disability is not high enough to warrant it. To get a “Purple Heart” plate you have to have been awarded a purple heart and be an Indiana resident (Sorry Sen Kerry), etc.

Now they are expecting the taxpayer to support the administrative costs associated with the In God We Trust plate. In fact, if there is no reason any longer to not have one of these plates on your car, unless you’re a godless commie who hates America. Not easy to identify them now, is it?

But, the person suing the state (it isn’t the ACLU, they are just representing him to ensure he gets his day in courts to let the courts decide the issue) is not suing to remove the plate, only that the $15 administrative fee be added so those who do NOT believe in the existence of a god are not expected to pay for the making and stocking of the plates.

Now, I understand that 91% of Americans believe in the existence of an invisible entity watching over everything we do. I long ago gave up believing in god, Santa and the Easter Bunny myself. BUT, that is what individual rights are there for, why the only organization in existence who can FORCE someone to do something or pay for something is not allowed to tread upon the rights of those individuals at the hands of the majority.

It may not be POPULAR, but it is right.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 25, 2007 12:56 AM
Comment #218376

The issue before the courts will be, does a state have the right to discriminate based on religious affiliation, for that is certainly what Indiana is doing here. They are giving preferential treatment to religious folks while forcing non-religious folks to fund that preferential treatment.

An analogy to clarify the principle would be if Indiana sent checks of support ONLY to the Catholic Church but spread the cost of doing so amongst all persons buying a license plate.

I am proud to be an ACLU supporter. They don’t always get it right, but, their dogged adherence to protecting and defending the Bill of Rights against all usurpers who would bypass them, is a most worthy cause. Please consider becoming an ACLU card carrying member today, if you believe the Bill of Rights need protection and defending.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 25, 2007 8:03 AM
Comment #218387

I am seeking other gay GOPers, I am a bottom seeking a top who can talk dirty to me about the war.

Posted by: Zelsdorf Ragshaft III at April 25, 2007 9:41 AM
Comment #218388

The ACLU’s origins

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45959

Posted by: traveller at April 25, 2007 9:50 AM
Comment #218390

I wonder what people would think if you could save $15 by getting a license plate that says “We Don’t Believe in God”. If the government can endorse religion then they can endorse atheism, right?

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 25, 2007 10:14 AM
Comment #218391

traveller,

And the Ford Motor company was founded by a Nazi sympathizer. And Volkswagen was found by Hitler himself. Does that mean that my wife is a Nazi because she owns a Cabrio?

Could we keep the conversation on relevant, timely information instead of guilt through irrelevant historical nonsense?

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 25, 2007 10:21 AM
Comment #218393

LB,

And VW used Jewish people as slave labor. So your wife is not only anti-Semitic but supports slavery. I’m sure she is a charming person though… ;)

traveller,

You are succumbing to the genetic fallacy. From Wikipedia:

The genetic fallacy is a logical fallacy based on the irrelevant appraisal of something based on its origin. It occurs when one attempts to reduce the significance of an idea, person, practice, or institution merely to an account of its origin (genesis) or earlier form. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context.

Actually you are applying it twice. You use the origins of the ACLU to judge the present-day ACLU. You also implicitly condemn a certain view of the license plate because it is the position of the ACLU.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 25, 2007 10:47 AM
Comment #218396

I think that anyone who believes in separation of church and state would have no problem with this.

If separation of church and state means that the church can not take part in matters of the state, then on the flip side the state can not charge individuals for practicing their religions by means of displaying a traditionally accepted license plate motto.

Therefore, the state can not deny the individual the right of displaying the chosen motto offered, or charge the individual for doing so. This would be in violation of the freedom of religion amendment. Religion can not be free if individuals are charged a price by the state to practice it. Indiana has it right!

JD

Posted by: JD at April 25, 2007 11:04 AM
Comment #218401

Rhinehold,

If the situation with your hand warrants the expense you might consider Dragon Naturally Speaking:

http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/standard/

I’ve used it for a long time due to tremors. Without it I’d hardly be able to communicate.

Posted by: KansasDem at April 25, 2007 11:58 AM
Comment #218403

Scottie. Suppose you walk into the IRS office with your freshly prepared tax documents ready to file. And suppose that on those documents is a checkbox which asks you to specify your religion, or lack thereof. Now suppose that you check ‘atheist’ and that the IRS charges you $15 extra as a ‘filing fee’ that they don’t charge those who check ‘protestant’ or ‘evangelical’.

Sound fair?

Because that’s not an analogy - that’s EXACTLY what this is. It’s discriminating against those who do not worship, or who do not wish to wear their faith on their sleeve.

Now, turn it around. Now it’s the atheists who get the $15 tax break. Think we’d hear more about it then? Would you still think it was a good idea?

Jon

Posted by: Jon Rice at April 25, 2007 12:02 PM
Comment #218404

Just FYI, I’d personally have no big problem with a license plate on my car (if I could drive) that bears the words “In God We Trust” in spite of being agnostic. I certainly don’t mind spending money that bears the same words.

Although I don’t pray I still bow my head in silence when I’m in the presence of those who do. It’s a matter of respect.

IMHO Indiana’s worst misstep here is even offering an alternative. If the duly elected representatives of Indiana chose to put a picture of MAD’s Alfred E. Newman picking his nose on their plates, so be it.

If enough people complained about it, then they’d change it.

Posted by: KansasDem at April 25, 2007 12:08 PM
Comment #218408

There has been no discrimination or pushing of religion onto others here.
With a half million being issued so far, there obviously was a demand for it.
You can still get a regular plate without the $15 admin fee.
There was no organization for the proceeds to go to, so rather than having govt making money off of its citizens faith, they waived the fee.

If anything, the people of Indiana could be upset about their govt using tax money to fund something they don’t like. But, since I do that in every paycheck I receive, I doubt it would work.

Its a state issue and if the people of Indiana don’t like it, they can vote to change it.

Posted by: kctim at April 25, 2007 12:58 PM
Comment #218415

My question for all of this… WHO CARES?

Who cares who cares who cares??? Who the freak cares?

As a devout secularist (interesting term, no?), I can honestly say I don’t give a gosh-darn. Let’s be pragmatic about this… There are much bigger problems in the world than whether or not someone chooses to pay 15 bucks on a stylized plate or not. Here in Nevada there are many options for plates… everything from supporting conservations efforts for Lake Tahoe to supporting the rodeo… all of these plates have different costs associated with them… does that mean the state cares more about the rodeo than Lake Tahoe? Probably not… and you know what? I don’t really care because I have the choice as to which plate I want to place on my car.

The ACLU does a lot of great things. They work hard to ensure the government does not infringe upon our personal rights. The problem with this case is that we do not have the right to drive a car. If we had the right to drive a car we wouldn’t need to go through the liscensing and registration process… the roads would be open to anyone. We don’t have to register our voice to speak freely…

Much ado about nothing…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at April 25, 2007 2:23 PM
Comment #218423

As usual I see several different arguments being made and a “if you disagree with one you disagree with them all” attitude being expressed.

First of all, from the standpoint of a tax payer who doesn’t like where many of my taxes go, if the state charges for vanity plates it should charge across the board. Simple. Easy. Makes sense to me. Issue number one solved.

The second problem though is the mis-perceptions and mis-quoting of the constitution and amendments. At least read the Bill of Rights if you’re going to talk about it. The First Amendment begins “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” (Cornell Law School). It does not enforce the separation of church and state. Stop saying it does! The term was “officially” introduced as precedent by the Supreme Court in 1878 and later reinforced in 1947 and in subsequent cases since. It was a precedent that has been upheld but can just as easily be struck down depending on the composition of the Supreme Court. Also, applying the First Amendment to the States or localities is based on Supreme Court interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s “Due Clause” process as well.

Finally, as far as First Amendment constitutional protections and interpretations go, atheists have no protections so stop acting like the First Amendment’s religion clause has anything to do with you. If a state could promote “every religion equally” somehow or another, then atheists would be S**T Out of Luck! Sorry, framers didn’t have you all in mind.

Please feel free to disagree with my interpretations and point out any mistakes, but stop distorting the constitution. The current government (both parties) are doing fine without your help. Let’s separate constitutional text (and personal and public interpretations) from Supreme Court precedents. Thanks!

Posted by: Peter R. Eichman at April 25, 2007 3:51 PM
Comment #218426
atheists have no protections

That may be your opinion. Fortunately, the Supreme Court disgrees

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 25, 2007 4:05 PM
Comment #218432

I wonder Peter if you have read the 9th amendment as well as you claim to know the first?

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 25, 2007 4:39 PM
Comment #218444

JD, Does that mean dollars and quarters should also be free?

Posted by: j2t2 at April 25, 2007 6:35 PM
Comment #218445

Warren P wrote:
Because of the First Amendment, any government in this country cannot favor any religion over another and cannot favor religion over no religion; so the current policies of the state of Indiana are unconstitutional and will most likely be changed as soon as the courts hear the American Civil Liberties Union’s suit to help protect the freedoms we cherish that make the United States the great and wonderful nation that it is.


WRONG!
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise there of; or abridging the freedom of speech or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Just where does that mention an individual state can’t do any of that?
Your going to have to put some real BS in any spin ya want to come up with to even try to pretend that the states included in the 1st amendment.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 25, 2007 6:36 PM
Comment #218447

To Rhinehold,

Please do elaborate about powers being given to the people and what that has to do with the state and religion. I don’t claim to know everything or much at all for that matter, but I do like to try and separate precedence (which can change with the wind) and debatable meanings behind the Constitution.

To LawnBoy,

The case you cited is right on the money. The state was attempting to impose a religious belief on all who wanted to take part in its governance, that most clearly violates the Constitution and Bill of Rights. However, instead of atheist you could have substituted any number of religions and arrived at the same conclusion.

The point I am after is that atheism is the rejection of religion. The Constitution protects you from a state mandated religion, NOT from religion itself. To use an example from the parent article, if the state of Indiana made license plates for every religion known to be practiced in the state, an atheist suing under the First Amendment clause would be inaccurate (although it would probably win). In this instance the state wouldn’t be mandating one religion. Pick a religion, any religion, and the state will have a license for it; but atheism, the rejection of religion, isn’t a religion by definition. It can’t be. So I will say again, even if recent court decisions disagree, that protection from any one religion is NOT the same thing as protection from religion.

Posted by: Peter R. Eichman at April 25, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #218448

Ron,

Just where does that mention an individual state can’t do any of that? Your going to have to put some real BS in any spin ya want to come up with to even try to pretend that the states included in the 1st amendment.

While I agree with where you are headed with this, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applies the first amendment to the states and localities across the land. Sorry I don’t have a case reference at the moment.

Posted by: Peter R. Eichman at April 25, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #218449

Peter
While first amendment doesn’t prohibit states from establishing a religion, I don’t think they should. And I think some states constitutions might prohibit.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 25, 2007 6:50 PM
Comment #218455

Living in Indiana like I do, I’d like to make a comment or two. Our state’s numbering system in the past let you know at a glance what county the car was from. This was certainly helpful to the Police and was a way of knowing if someone prowling your neighborhood at night was from the area or not. That may be good to know. Also, the fee is kind of a big deal. The reason the other plates cost more ( so I’m told ) is making more and different plates costs more. Duh. So yes, this plate being no more expensive than the regular plate has in effect cost the state and certainly the citizens who don’t want a plate with God anywhere on it ( that’d be me ) extra. My wife has an Environmental plate on her car, $40.00 a year extra. I don’t like it but she thinks the squirrels get some of the money. I do think that if there was this little bittty fee of $15.00 added to this plate too, we’d see fewer of the damn things. Oh, also, the coloring is just about exactly like our neighbor to the North, Michigan. Lastly just about every time I’m cut off in traffic or like the other day when I was driving through a twenty five mph school zone and some moron passed me, they almost invariable have this damn plate on their car. Rebut all you want, that’s the truth. I drive for a living and I see a lot of plates. And a lot of numskulls. In Mitch we trust.

Posted by: ray at April 25, 2007 8:03 PM
Comment #218457

Just to clarify, the old IN plates had a numbering system that at a glance told you the county. The In God We Trust plate is any old random set of numbers, not identifying in any way. Oh there is a little white sticker now they have to put on to identify the county. More cost.

Posted by: ray at April 25, 2007 8:12 PM
Comment #218461
So I will say again, even if recent court decisions disagree, that protection from any one religion is NOT the same thing as protection from religion.

First, this is different from your initial claim. Your initial claim was that atheists have no protection under the law. This is incorrect. The case I presented before and this case both show that an explicit belief in nothing is a protected belief.

That is different from your new claim that atheists are seeking protection from religion. We aren’t. We are seeking the right to practice our beliefs - the right not to believe in a god. We are seeking the right not to have the government impose upon us a religion with which we disagree - just like everyone else.

Second, I find it interesting that you state your opinion as fact and claim its truth “even if recent court decisions disagree”. Am I supposed to follow your opinion or the courts’?

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 25, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #218465

LawnBoy,

My initial claim did not state that atheists have no protection under the law, but rather that the first amendment does not protect from religion, simply from a state mandated religion. To quote myself

as far as First Amendment constitutional protections and interpretations go, atheists have no protections so stop acting like the First Amendment’s religion clause has anything to do with you. If a state could promote “every religion equally” somehow or another, then atheists would be S**T Out of Luck!
The purpose of the statement in my second post, again quoting myself
if the state of Indiana made license plates for every religion known to be practiced in the state, an atheist suing under the First Amendment clause would be inaccurate (although it would probably win). In this instance the state wouldn’t be mandating one religion. Pick a religion, any religion, and the state will have a license for it; but atheism, the rejection of religion, isn’t a religion by definition.
was to further reinforce the first post.

Look, I don’t actually care to delve further into the discussion of first amendment rights and interpretations. If you don’t agree with my stance that’s fine. It’s America and we’re all free to disagree and discuss our points, like we’re doing here.

The original purpose of my post, before I went off on a tangent, is that to preserve the integrity of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (which in the current political environment is very important!) we should separate arguments about the Bill of Rights versus arguments over Supreme Court interpretations. I know it might seem inconsequential, but it is important. I would be typing this same comment no matter what amendment was being discussed. It bothers me when people cite a Supreme Court precedent as if it were written verbatim in the Constitution. Precedent is nothing more than the “opinion” of the court and it can and does change over time. The difference is huge, and I believe should be noted in discussion.

Posted by: Peter R. Eichman at April 25, 2007 9:17 PM
Comment #218475

Once again: although this isn’t (at least to me) a very good policy on the part of the state of Indiana, the citizens of Indiana elected those responsible for it, and can change it one or way or another if they feel strongly enough about it. It’s called democracy.

Are the religious getting an unfair break that the unreligious don’t enjoy? Yes. They sure are.

Is Indiana trying to establish a state religion in violation of the Consitution? No. A license plate can hardly accomplish that. Is anyone forced to display this plate? No.

What Indiana ought to do here is just drop all of their administrative fees for everything except vanity plates.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 25, 2007 11:45 PM
Comment #218477

I agree, LO. And this IS a vanity plate. So the $15 should be added.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 25, 2007 11:49 PM
Comment #218480

j2t2,

Yes, dollars and quarters are free in the U.S.! I’ve never paid anything for a dollar or a quarter. The government simply makes them for our use. All you have to do is work to gain one. And some people don’t even have to do that!

JD

Posted by: JD at April 26, 2007 12:05 AM
Comment #218516

Why is this a $15 tax break only for religious people? Couldn’t a non-religious person buy this tag as well and receive the benefit of not having to pay the $15? Now if they are checking church membership before you can obtain one that would be a little different.

In SC we have the “In God We Trust” tag. It costs the same as the regular tag. For $6 more you can get the “Secular Humanist” tag. A Number 8 (Dale Jr.) tag will cost you $70. I guess we discriminate a little harder against them Bud drinking NASCAR dads than those Secular Humanists….

This story is a function of lawyers having too much time on their hands by the way…

Posted by: George in SC at April 26, 2007 1:39 PM
Comment #218530

I wonder if Indiana was charging $100 for the IN God We Trust tag if the folks that want it would get the ACLU’s support if they were claiming that the extra high fee was discrimatory against their belief in God. I highly doubt it. After all the ACLU is against anything that mentions God. That’s the only reason they’re upset about this tag. Not that it’s free. But because God is mentioned.
I reckon by some of y’alls comments that the good folks of the Great State of Georgia should be upset with the fact that I have 2 tags that I either haven’t paid tag fees on or haven’t paid the Ad Valorem tax on in years. We have a Retired Air Force tag on the 300C, and a Purple Heart tag on the Elantra. We only pay Ad Valorem on the Retired tag, and only pay the tag fee ($50 a year)on the Purple Heart tag.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 26, 2007 4:29 PM
Comment #218531

BTW: The normal tag fee in Georgia is $20 a year plus the Ad Valorem tax. The Ad Valorem tax goes to the County the vehicle is registered in. And the County set the tax rate.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 26, 2007 4:32 PM
Comment #218537

See my previous comment about how the plates are handled in Indiana, how they are done in Georgia and SC is irrelevant.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2007 4:53 PM
Comment #218540

Oh there is a little white sticker now they have to put on to identify the county. More cost.

Posted by: ray at April 25, 2007 08:12 PM

Believe it or not but a sticker with the county name on it lets the police know where the car is from faster than the officer having to call in and ask for the county from some number. Specially if the counties are numbered by population like some states have done in the past. The officer can just look at the tag and tell what county it’s from.
This is also helpful to citizens reporting a suspicious vechile in their area. If they have the tag # they can tell the police what county it’s from.
A lot of states use this system now and both the police and the general public like it.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 26, 2007 5:40 PM
Comment #218648
After all the ACLU is against anything that mentions God.

Ron,

How many times would you have to see the list of cases that the ACLU has taken that directly disprove this notion of yours before you would stop trotting it out for every discussion about the ACLU?

Just curious.

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 27, 2007 10:12 PM
Comment #218861

Apparently very few of you have actually read the constitution.

Constitutionally, the government CAN promote a religion, support a religion, claim a religion, have churches, take donations, and much much much more.

There is only one thing the constitution stops the government from doing in reference to religion and that is make any one religion mandatory (i.e. Church of England, Taliban, etc…)

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at April 30, 2007 6:59 PM
Comment #218863

… and I almost forgot to mention.

If the state of Indiana really had that big of a problem the would pass an initiative against it and the ACLU would not need to sue.

If a law suite is involved against state it is usually because some uptight prick didn’t get his way.

I stand by the above statement.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at April 30, 2007 7:08 PM
Comment #218878

Bryan,

To which nation’s constitution are your referring? I ask because it’s obviously not America’s.

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 30, 2007 8:42 PM
Comment #218981

Ron Brown, either I still was not clear or you just don’t want to understand cause you like God, if she even exists. Take a plate like I had 20A1234 for instance, 20 represents Elkhart Co. IN and the A after it tells you even more about where it was purchased, that being where you live. Duh, even Indianans get this. Now figure out quickly where this guy is from 38597 with a cute little and I mean little sticker in the bottom right corner, right next to the ubiquitous Dale Jr. license plate frame. See the diff? If not, look it up, in Revelations I think it is. Oh yeah, if you wanted to you could not get the vanity plate 666. What significance does that number have besides being the number after 665? This old Hoosier can’t figure that one out.

Posted by: ray at May 1, 2007 8:53 PM
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