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

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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.

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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