The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis claims motorists who request the "In God We Trust" plates receive preferential treatment because they do not have to pay a $15 administrative fee that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles collects. The administrative fees are added to other fees whose proceeds promote the causes of the other specialty plates.
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.
Studler is being represented by the Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
earlier this month, a number of blogs (including this one) noted that the state actually loses around $3.69 per IGWT plate, which comes to somewhere between one-and-a-half and two million dollars lost so far subsidizing these plates... and they've only been available for a few months.
personally, i'd be happy to let the christians have their god plate, as long as they had to pay their administrative fees like everyone else, and the state also offered plates endorsing other religions (buddhism, islam, judaism, atheism) and other points of view that are widely accepted by non-fundamentalists (evolution, tolerance, etc). with this lawsuit, the former might eventually come true... but this being indiana, the latter will probably not happen in the forseeable future. ¶