Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Mark Studler has nothing against people expressing their religious beliefs, even on their license plates.

But the Allen County man says he also believes those folks should be treated like Hoosiers who use their vehicle tags to promote education or the environment and are charged an extra fee to do so.

Studler and the ACLU of Indiana went to court Monday to challenge a law allowing Hoosier motorists to acquire "In God We Trust" plates at no additional cost.

"The Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers dozens of specialty plates, supporting organizations from the Indianapolis Colts to arts groups. The "In God We Trust" plate is the only generally available specialty plate exempt from any fee," said Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, which filed the suit on Studler's behalf in Marion Superior Court.
Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, led the effort in 2006 that created the plate. He has said that judges are chipping away at the Judeo-Christian foundation of America, and he backed the plate to give like-minded residents the chance to show their concern.
"Over half a million of these plates have been (distributed). It's the No. 1 plate in the state," he said.
You see these new plates everywhere. The ACLU and other Christian-Haters everywhere have to be livid.


Jacob said...

You see these new plates everywhere. The ACLU and other Christian-Haters everywhere have to be livid.

Oh noes! Free speech!! How awful. I must get back to my lair and discuss this with my fellow Christian-haters over a nice game of backgammon.

Jacob said...

I forgot to add the gigantic eyeroll at the end of that comment.

Consider this it.

SkyePuppy said...

It is our national motto (so far), so people shouldn't have to pay.

Some people, like Studler, have nothing better to do than be professionally offended.


Watch out! Backgammon can get really ugly...

Mojo_Risin said...

Yeah, it's our national motto. But just because it is doesn't mean it should be free to have it put on your license plate. It costs more money to make these special vanity plates, so why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for the extra cost? Especially if they don't believe in God! It's an example, though a minor one, of a conflict with separation of church and state.

After all, it's on our cash, too. By your reasoning, we should get our cash free, too! What kind of communist are you? ;-)

SkyePuppy said...


I'm glad to see you're on my side about this...

Mojo_Risin said...

I'm glad you see it that way. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"It's an example, though a minor one, of a conflict with separation of church and state."

Ah yes, the liberal's favorite phrase: "separation of church and state." I assume, mojo, that you mean the separation of church and state advocated by Thomas Jefferson.

"It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson's example, although unlike Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, Madison came in a coach and four. Worship services in the House--a practice that continued until after the Civil War--were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.) As early as January 1806 a female evangelist, Dorothy Ripley, delivered a camp meeting-style exhortation in the House to Jefferson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and a "crowded audience." Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers.

"Jefferson's actions may seem surprising because his attitude toward the relation between religion and government is usually thought to have been embodied in his recommendation that there exist 'a wall of separation between church and state.' In that statement, Jefferson was apparently declaring his opposition, as Madison had done in introducing the Bill of Rights, to a 'national' religion. In attending church services on public property, Jefferson and Madison consciously and deliberately were offering symbolic support to religion as a prop for republican government."

And before you accuse me of quoting from some right-wing evangelical website, the foregoing excerpt came from the Library of Congress:

Yes, indeed, Tom must be rolling over in his grave over the blatant violation of the separation of church and state embodied by Hoosiers being able to acquire a license plate that says... gasp... "In God We Trust" for the same price as a regular plate.

Mojo_Risin said...

I'm sorry you went through all the trouble to find that quote and copy and paste it over here, because, honestly, I don't give a flying fig about what TJ thinks of separation of church and state. He's been dead near 200 years, and his thoughts on the subject, while interesting, don't automatically mean that he's right concerning anything that happens TODAY.

And while you claim that I said the license plate thing was "a blatant violation of the separation of church and state," you are misquoting me in your wild frenzy to appear vindicated. I said it was only a minor one, but it should be looked at.

Anonymous said...

Ah, mojo, I'm afraid I'm going to have to burst your bubble.

First, it really was no trouble to cut and paste the quotation above. It has been useful on a number of occasions when lefties trot out "separation of church and state." Oddly, like you, they tend to downplay its significance or change the subject when confronted with the way the author of the phrase applied the concept.

Second, I don't give a "flying fig" what you think "separation of church and state" should mean "TODAY". You have illustrated well the difference between the modern lefty and those of us who believe the written Constitution should mean something. It isn't a document that can be molded and shaped to mean whatever you want it to mean. Like any other binding legal document, it means what it says. If you don't like what it says, there are ways to amend it. Until then, one of the best ways to understand what it means is to investigate the views and interpretations of those who were around when it was created.

In other words, I'm not impressed by the arrogance that accompanies a declaration that we "TODAY" know better what the Constitution should mean than our Founding Fathers did.

Lastly, in your rush to discredit me, you miss the obvious. You said: "It's an example, though a minor one, of a conflict with separation of church and state." I described it as a "blatant violation," and you accused me of misquoting you.

Well, you can't have it both ways. It either is, or it isn't, a violation, mojo. The word blatant means conspicuous or obvious. If it is a violation, it must be a "blatant" violation. I struggle to grasp how something you describe as "an example ... of a conflict" can be a hidden conflict that only a few have the ability to discover. If it is a conflict, even a minor one, then it must be conspicuous (i.e. a blatant). Perhaps my "wild frenzy" is clouding my understanding, but I rather suspect this was an attempt at changing the subject after laying claim to having a better understanding of how our country's founding documents should be applied "TODAY" than the authors themselves.

Mojo_Risin said...

Do you really not understand that the Constitution is a living document--thankfully!--and that the Founding Fathers made it so? They did a great job with it, and they have my undying gratitude for it, but they had the wisdom to know that they did not have ALL WISDOM.

200 years is a long time, and the world, and the people in it, have changed a lot. At the time the Constitution was written, it was legal to own slaves in America. The question at the time was almost completely an econominc one--plantation owners felt they couldn't survive without unpaid labor. Well, a few decades later, the question became a moral one, a war was fought, and the Constitution was amended. Our understanding of its precepts grew, and situations that did not exist 70 years earlier were now covered.

The Constitution DOES mean something in this country, and I understand that a lot of it depends on POV. Only arrogant fools think they have all the answers.

But tell me this... It seems you think the Constitution was perfect as-is back in the day--then why do we need amendments to it at all?When the FF created it, why was there no Bill of Rights? The answer is because, as I said, it is a living, breathing document, and was created to change with the changing world.

And you DID misquote me. "Blatant" means not only "apparent", but "brazenly apparent" or "tastelessly conspicuous" or "offensively noisy"--so in-your-face that it is arrogant to disregard it. I said the license plate thing was a minor issue, and should be looked at. You're the one trying to turn this into a character issue.

Anonymous said...


Your attempts at making this about your "character" aside, you are still demonstrating the lefty mindset with your "living, breathing Constitution."

First, you allege that I believe the Constitution "was perfect as-is back in the day". Now it is you who is doing the misquoting. If you re-read my prior post carefully, you will see that I clearly indicated the following: "Like any other binding legal document, it means what it says. If you don't like what it says, there are ways to amend it."

It is the way of amending it that we apparently disagree about. I respect the amendment process our Founding Fathers envisioned. Many on the left prefer to seek the recourse of the courts with cries of separation of church and state and assertions that we TODAY better understand what the Constitution means than the people who wrote it.

What many fail to grasp, apparently, is that the Constitution means what it says. If there are things today that require an amendment to the document, then there is a process in place for securing that amendment. It does not involve individuals declaring they understand better what the document means than everyone else and that the historical precedent and intent of the Founding Fathers should be disregarded.

Interestingly, all the examples you cite in your post are ones in which the legitimate method of amending the Constitution was utilized. In other words, rather than judges declaring that the Constitution now means something different than it did previously, it was determined that a change was needed, and a formal amendment was adopted. And yet your arguments suggest you believe that the views of the Founders should mean very little... that our views TODAY of what the document means should govern. In short, your examples don't support your view of Constitutional interpretation.

If the license plate is a violation of separation of church and state as you believe it should be applied today, then by all means, take action to seek an amendment to the Constitution as written to engraft your view of "separation" on the document. Do not, however, tell us that the document as currently written mandates your view.

It is clear you view me as an "arrogant fool." That is fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But the Founding Fathers put in place a system for amending the Constitution that does not involve unelected officals deciding it means something today that it didn't mean yesterday. Those who claim such superiority are the ones demonstrating the true arrogance.

Your "living breathing Constitution" argument flies in the face of the system our Founding Fathers put in place. Rather than fitting within their method of amending the Constitution, it is adhering to the legal positivist view articulated by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes many years ago: "we are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is."

And although you don't give a "flying fig" what Thomas Jefferson thinks, perhaps you should consider his warning: “You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”

You may have the last word if you wish. It is clear we are worlds apart on this and I have better things to do with my time than argue constitutional jurisprudence with you. And, should you view this lack of interest in entertaining your retort as another wild frenzied attack on your character, let me apologize in advance.

Mojo_Risin said...

Thank you for your apology. And I will take this last-word opportunity.

My argument doesn't "fly in the face of the syetem our Founding Fathers put in place." They created a government with 3 branches: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. And my big question would be--what is the Judicial branch of the government for? For interpreting how laws should apply in certain situations--including the Constitution.

If you disagree with that, then I don't know what to tell you. We are definitely worlds apart on it.

All_I_Can_Stands said...


Where is the line that should be drawn in the "interpretation" role? In the system of check and balances there seems to be a lack of ability to prevent a judge from even the extreme of "interpreting" a law to mean the exact opposite of what it means. While that extreme rarely if ever happens, they do interpret laws to say things they do not even come close to saying. This is called creating law out of whole cloth. That is the job of the legislature - confirmed by the executive. Yet liberals have no problem with it.

We have had members of the Senate criticize nominees for being too religious. What if there was ever an "interpretation" of the separation clause that ruled that nobody of faith could serve on a high court because it breaches "separation of church and state".

Of course many liberals would cheer that ruling, but it would not make it right; nor be a rightful "interpretive" role of the judiciary.

Mojo_Risin said...

Judging where the line lies is the job of judges. Admittedly, they do a less-than-perfect job of it sometimes. But if an unfavorable ruling is reached, that's what the appeals process is for. And of course, the final line is drawn by the Supreme Court using their own interpretations of the Constitution and the law of the land.

And even after the Supreme Court rules, Congress has the right to create new laws to abolish the old, and the system resets itself. So in the end, elected officials DO have the final say. And that's exactly what makes the system of checks and balances so awesome.

Progress is a sailing course of zig-zags, but the average direction tends to be true.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong (straight outta Dennis Miller).

All_I_Can_Stands said...


Judging where the line lies is the job of judges. Admittedly, they do a less-than-perfect job of it sometimes.

An oddly casual attitude about something where great care should be taken. The idea that "hey if they mess it up it can be fixed down the road" isn't right. I will agree with your first sentence though. They should judge where the line is, not move the line to where it best suits their agenda.

That would be like a judge in a tennis match that instead of judging if the ball is in or out, they instead determine who they want to win and judge according to their preference instead of reality. To then say there would be an appeal to the tennis association would hardly be a comfort to the unfavored player.