FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Kentucky man’s lawsuit against state officials who denied him the vanity license plate reading "IM GOD" has the green light to move forward.
An order released Friday by the U.S. District Court says Bennie Hart’s lawsuit against Greg Thomas, in his capacity as secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Department, can move to trial because it involves First Amendment issues.
The state had asked the court to toss the case citing laws that generally do not allow private citizens to sue state.
The case springs from a dispute that began in 2016 when Hart applied to have the vanity plate. Previously, Hart lived in Ohio and had his "IM GOD" vanity plate there for a dozen years.
However, Kentucky officials denied his request for the plate in the Commonwealth, at first citing statues that say such plates cannot be "vulgar or obscene" and later citing regulations that say plates considered "offensive to good taste and decency" can be taken back.
The court’s ruling found Hart’s First Amendment rights overrode the state’s normal protection against lawsuits.
Read the order below: