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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Empty plates

I'm lousy at predicting, but I think the state's gonna lose this one:

A gay youth group whose specialty license plate was revoked at the behest of conservative Indiana lawmakers is appealing the decision to an administrative law judge, arguing that the state selectively enforced the policy that led to the ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the Indiana Youth Group in its appeal of the state's March decision, which was made after a group of conservative state Senate Republicans lobbied the BMV to revoke the group's new specialty plates.

Once the state starts letting groups use license plates to promote their causes and raise money, denying specific groups the privilege gets into very dicey First Amendment territory. And lawmakers who wanted the permission revoked knew that, which is why they went for the end-run of the charge about the group "violating the contract with the state" by selling low-number plates for extra money. It's the equivalent of charging Al Capone with income tax evasion because you can't make the racketerring charges stick. The plaintiffs have already come up with the names of several groups that do the same thing routinely and without punishment, making the bogus justification  glaringly obvious.


Thu, 06/14/2012 - 10:31am

An attorney involved in this case says that the Indiana Youth Group violated its contract with the state.  So it may be more of a contractual dispute  than a First Amendment dispute.

Christopher Swing
Thu, 06/14/2012 - 2:16pm

And that contractual dispute would still by why some groups are singled out and not others, under the same contract.

What was your point in restating the obvious, Rebecca?

But as usual, the conservatives have managed to shoot themselves in the foot:

"Aside from the governmental battling, the dust-up has generated more support for the group, Byrne said. They sold 50 copies of an informal plate that looks Indianapolis gay pride parade last weekend and their float in the parade was a larger-than-life license plate.

"They have done so much good for us," Byrne said about their increased recognition in public."

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 3:45pm

Oh, Cap'n, my Cap'n you do love being a victim. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union has already had one suit involving this group dismissed. This is Indiana Youth Group  Whine Part II.

The Indiana 4-H and the Greenway Foundation also had rights suspended because of violating the contract by charging higher prices for low-digit plates.  If you want to play the game, play by the rules. That includes the State of Indiana.

If there is a double standard, prove it in Court.


Christopher Swing
Thu, 06/14/2012 - 5:26pm

Do you just enjoy being oblivious, Rebecca/Sophocles?

"The practice of reserving low-number plates for supporters is fairly common in Indiana. The Indiana Soccer group, which supports youth soccer programs, advertises low-number plates on its website for an additional $30 per plate on top of the $40 charge for specialty plates. Butler University and the Indiana Black Expo offer low-numbered specialty plates, too, and direct inquiries to their fundraising offices."


It's already obvious there's a been a selective enforcement of the contract. RTFA.

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 10:37pm

It seems that, at least on the surface, that the 14th amendment may have been violated here:

"Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if it is applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar circumstances, material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the Constitution."