FRANKFORT — A Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday an anti-pornography group cannot sponsor a specialty license plate with the motto "In God We Trust."
Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana, a Louisville-based non-profit, petitioned the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in 2008 to sponsor the "In God We Trust" license plate. The cabinet denied the petition, saying ROCK promotes religion, making the organization ineligible to sponsor a license plate under state law.
In its application, ROCK said it was going to use money from sales of the plate to raise awareness about harm caused by pornography and the sex industry.
The group sued the Cabinet in 2009, saying the Cabinet had improperly denied the application. ROCK said the Cabinet's assertion that ROCK was promoting religion was incorrect because it is not promoting a specific faith or religion. The Cabinet also said ROCK's initial design did not identify itself as the sponsor of the plate.
In the ruling released Tuesday, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said the Cabinet followed state regulations when it denied the application for the specialty plate. Shepherd noted that other specialty plates have a logo or indicate a cause the driver supports.
"The phrase 'In God We Trust' does not indicate to anyone who views the plate that the holder of the specialty plate supports the goal of abolishing pornography and the sex industry in the commonwealth," Shepherd wrote.
There are nearly 20 specialty plates in Kentucky representing different causes, ranging from breast cancer awareness to spay-neuter pet programs. Citizens may petition for the plates after obtaining 900 signatures. Motorists pay extra for the license plates and can donate to a specific cause at the time of purchase.
Officials with ROCK were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
In December, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced "In God We Trust" plates would become standard-issue, not specialty, plates, and cost the same — $21 — as most Kentucky license plates. The plates became available in January.