The Indiana Law Blog caught an AP story about the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana suing the state over “In God We Trust” license plates because, unlike other specialty plates, no additional fee is charged.
The plaintiff bringing the case, Mark Studler, said he pays an additional $40 for one of the popular environmental plates depicting an eagle above the word “Environment.” Of the total fee, $25 goes to a state trust to purchase land set aside for conservation or recreational purposes and the remaining $15 is for the administration fee.
The 2006 law establishing the “In God We Trust” plate waives the administrative fee.
“Therefore, those who obtain an ‘In God We Trust’ license plate are afforded the opportunity to make an affirmative statement through display of the plate without any additional cost while Mr. Studler must pay additional fees for his environmental license plate,” the complaint said.
I think this makes some sense. The suit won’t be popular — lawsuits over civil liberties rarely are — but I think challenging the preferential status the “In God We Trust” plate gets over other “message” plates is correct. Why should one message, particularly a religious endorsement, be subsidized by the state when others are not?