Says the Practice Violates Their First Amendment Free Speech and Free Exercise Rights
Jason Alan Griggs, Derenda Hancock, and Leslie Kim Gibson, along with the groups American Atheists and the Mississippi Humanist Association, filed the complaint in federal court on Tuesday. Griggs, Hancock, and Gibson are all nonreligious Mississippi residents whose vehicles bear license plates emblazoned with the state seal, which contains the phrase “In God We Trust.” According to the complaint, the plaintiffs believe they are essentially being forced to carry and display a religious message with which they disagree.
“No state may force a person to be a mouthpiece for the government’s preferred message,” the complaint begins. “This freedom from compelled speech is a foundational tenet of American society. Yet the State of Mississippi demands exactly that from every single car owner in the state. In so doing, the state is violating of a nearly a century of settled First Amendment law.”
“This is an action challenging the [state’s licensing practices] that together require Mississippi’s nonreligious drivers to display the government’s preferred ideological, religious message on their vehicles or, if they refuse to do so, pay higher fees to legally driver their vehicles,” the complaint later says.