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General News

BMV Commissioner Asks State Supreme Court To Stay Vanity Plate Ruling

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Chris Richards
/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrismrichards/1525185825

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles will ask the state Supreme Court to overturn a lower court order to restart the state‘s personalized license plate program.

BMV Commissioner Don Snemis says a notice of appeal will ask the justices to overturn the May ruling of Marion County Superior Court Judge James Osborn. Osborn’s ruling says the BMV violated the First Amendment rights of some of those whose personalized plates had been denied.

Among them was Greenfield police officer Rodney Vawter, whose plate read "0INK," which he said was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to his profession.

Snemis‘s main objection is with Judge Osborn‘s rewriting of the guidelines used by the BMV to determine which personalized plates are proper.

"We think that the agency should be the one to write rules. We think that the Legislature should be the one to pass the laws, and that the courts are not well-equipped to do that," Snemis says.

The attorney who argued against the BMV says the judge wrote the guidelines because the old guidelines appeared to be applied at random.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana opposes the BMV in the case. ACLU legal director Ken Falk says plates with obvious similarities were approved or denied, seemingly at random.