Lawsuit filed against BMV over specialty gay, lesbian plates

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to reinstate specialty license plates for a local gay and lesbian youth group. 

The ACLU argues the BMV commissioner, Scott Waddell, violated due process by acting as the appellate and final authority in an internal review that approved specialty plates for the Indiana Youth Group (IYG).

“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 Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director.

In May, Administrative Law Judge Melissa Reynolds ruled that the state violated the IYG’s specialty license plate contract when it suspended the plate last year without giving required notice. Judge Reynolds ordered the BMV reinstate the plates.

However, last week, Waddell issued an Order of Remand, which continued the suspension in order to conduct “further proceedings, including additional fact finding and opportunity for the parties to submit additional briefs.”

Sales of the specialty plates were suspended last March after 20 state legislators signed a letter, claiming IYG was violating their contract by auctioning low-number plates to supporters. IYG argues they were using the low numbered plates as thank you gifts for supporters.

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