Agency ordered to pay fees in ‘IM GOD’ license plate case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has to pay more than $150,000 in legal fees for a man who won a lawsuit allowing him to put “IM GOD” on his license plate.

A judge ruled this week that the state agency must pay $150,715.50 in attorneys’ fees and an additional $491.24 for court costs, news outlets reported.

The ruling came in a case filed by Ben Hart, a self-identified atheist, who set out to get the Kentucky plate in 2016. The transportation department denied the request on the basis it violated anti-discrimination guidelines.

A federal judge ruled in November that “vanity plates” are private speech protected by the First Amendment and that the state had violated Hart’s rights by denying him the plate.

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Lawyers for the state cabinet fought the costs, calling them excessive.

The fees will go to a team of lawyers, including some with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, both of which helped Hart challenge the state’s decision.

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