By Sarah Ladd:
Louisville Courier Journal
Kentucky Transportation officials will be out more than $150,000 after losing a legal battle to a man who wanted to put "IM GOD" on his license plate.
In November, a federal judge in Frankfort gave Ben Hart the OK to get the controversial license plate after a three-year legal battle against the transportation cabinet.
Hart applied for the license in 2016 but was denied because it didn't "meet requirements."
Kentucky statute allows for personalized license plates as long as the letters do not discriminate against anyone because of their sex, race, color, religion or nationality.
In Hart's case, the court ruled that vanity plates were private speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
On Monday, a judge ordered the defendants in Hart's case to pay out $150,715.50 in lawyer fees and an additional $491.24 for additional court costs.
Lawyers for the defendants fought the costs, calling them excessive and arguing that Hart didn't actually succeed in convincing the judge that the vanity plate statute was unconstitutional on its face but merely was allowed to get the license plate he wanted.
A judge overruled those arguments. The attorney fees will go to a team of lawyers, including lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which both backed Hart in the suit.