The Lookout

Court rules Oklahoma man can sue over license plate

The Lookout

Sample Oklahoma license plate (photo: Oklahoma DMV)

Sample Oklahoma license plate (photo: Oklahoma DMV)

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that a man can sue the state of Oklahoma over its license plates.

The man, Keith Cressman, has argued that the state's standard license plate, which depicts a Native American shooting an arrow into the sky, goes against the separation of church and state, according to a report from Tulsa World.

He sued a number of state officials in 2011. That lawsuit was initially dismissed in 2012 but has since been reinstated by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to Tulsa World, the court ruled that the image of Allan Houser's "Sacred Rain Arrow" sculpture, which is featured on 3 million license plates in the state, could be seen as an endorsement of a specific religion.

Cressman, who told Tulsa World he "adheres to historic Christian beliefs," argued that he shouldn't have to pay extra for a specialized plate that he does not find objectionable.

Specialty plates that do not feature the image of the sculpture cost more money. Cressman was also told that if he attempted to cover up the image of the "Sacred Rain Arrow" sculpture, he would be subject to a fine.

Cressman's attorney, Nathan Kellum, told the Associated Press that his client "doesn't want to be forced to say something that he does not want to say."

Diane Clay, who serves as a spokeswoman for Oklahoma's office of the attorney general, which is fighting the lawsuit, said in a statement, "We'll continue to defend the state's position that Oklahoma's license plate design does not violate Mr. Cressman's constitutional rights."

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