This Indiana Youth Group specialty plate has caused a squabble between the organization and conservative lawmakers since it debuted in 2011.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The legal battle continues over whether an organization supporting gay youth can have a specialty license plate in Indiana.
On Friday, Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Scott Waddell went against an administrative law judge’s ruling in suspending Indiana Youth Group’s plate which features a rainbow colored hand.
Waddell’s move flew in the face of an administrative judge’s May ruling that the plates be reinstated.
The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis claiming the commissioner’s action violated Indiana Youth Group’s right to due process. Waddell was named as the defendant.
In the complaint seeking reinstatement of the specialty plate, the ACLU said the commissioner wasn’t in position to make a decision.
"The BMV commissioner acting as the appellate and final authority over a decision that he, in effect, issued, violates the right to have an impartial decision maker in administrative adjudications and therefore violates the fundamental principle of due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment," said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk.
Following the 2012 Indiana legislative session, conservative Republican lawmakers alleged that the group broke its contract with the state by selling low digit plates. Last month, the administrative judge decided that the organization’s actions did not constitute a sale of those low numbered plates.
In his order suspending the plate last week, Waddell wrote that he is the “ultimate authority” on such decisions by Indiana law.
An ACLU statement regarding the new lawsuit said 20 state senators asked the BMV to terminate the youth group’s contract in 2012 after they had been ineffective in passing legislation to that effect. Earlier this year, the legislature passed and Governor Mike Pence signed into law House Enrolled Act 1279, which establishes a committee of eight state lawmakers to determine which specialty plates are approved.
Indiana Youth Group executive director Mary Byrne said the BMV is “just being vindictive.”
"There was nothing ambiguous in the administrative law judge's ruling," said Byrne. "The BMV had a chance to present its side at the administrative hearing, and they lost. The BMV simply does not want IYG to get its plate back, ever."