Group seeks free alternative to state normal state issued tag.
According to American Atheists, they have filed a lawsuit against Mississippi over the state’s “In God We Trust” license plates, the standard vehicle license plate since 2019. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, demands that the state government offer an alternative license plate at no additional fee.
BREAKING: We just filed a lawsuit in Mississippi challenging the state's requirement that every driver display the divisive and exclusionary "In God We Trust" motto. https://t.co/86WiNLa4Zy pic.twitter.com/oSTg7vOhX0
— American Atheists (@AmericanAtheist) June 22, 2021
On their website, American Atheists state that, “‘In God We Trust’ only became the national motto in 1956. However, it has long been used to show hostility toward atheists and religious minorities.”
American Atheists is joined by the Mississippi Humanist Association and three nonreligious Mississippi residents in this litigation. The individuals listed as plaintiffs on their website include Jason Alan Griggs, Kim Gibson, and Derenda Hancock.
Their complaint accuses the Mississippi Commissioner of Revenue of violating nonreligious people’s freedoms of speech and religion by forcing them to display this religious message on their private property.
“American Atheists’ lawsuit does not challenge the constitutionality of the national motto or the current Seal of the State of Mississippi,” the group states. “Numerous legal challenges, including one in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by American Atheists’ founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair (O’Hair v. Blumenthal) in 1979, were unsuccessful. American Atheists lawsuit, instead, challenges the constitutionality of forcing certain drivers to display this religious message and penalizing others if they choose not to.”
American Atheists use Governor Tate Reeves’ 2019 campaign ad titled “In God We Trust” in their public argument related to the legal challenge.
“In his election campaign for governor, Reeves campaigned on the ‘In God We Trust’ message, boasting about the new license plate and affixing one to a vehicle in a 2019 commercial titled ‘In God We Trust.’ In the video, Reeves equates ‘In God We Trust’ with ‘Mississippi’s values,’ insinuating that only Christians are real Mississippians,” the group writes.
On learning of the lawsuit, Governor Reeves doubled down on his support for the license plate’s wording, tweeting, “I know Mississippi’s values are our strength…and I meant it when I said as Governor I would defend our values every single day!”
I know Mississippi’s values are our strength…and I meant it when I said as Governor I would defend our values every single day!
I will defend “In God We Trust” on our tag, on our flag, and on our state seal….Every. Single. Day. pic.twitter.com/6kYoKOZ7F6
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) June 22, 2021
Attorney General Lynn Fitch told Y’all Politics she was prepared to defend the state.
“We are reviewing the complaint, and we look forward to defending Mississippi’s law against special interest professional litigators,” Fitch said.
Read the filing for yourself below.