S.C. Atty. Gen.: 'I Believe' License Plates Legal

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Specialty license plates with the words "I Believe" may be legal in South Carolina, according to an opinion written by the state attorney general.

A federal judge ruled last November against the Palmetto State's approved plates with a religious message. However, Attorney General Henry McMaster said a plate designed by the non-profit group named www.IBELIEVEsc.net is legal.

The group's license plate's design has their name, which includes the words "I Believe" across the top and displays artwork of a golden sunrise with three crosses to symbolize the place where Jesus was crucified.

The group applied for the plates back in February under a state law which allows groups to apply for specialty plates. Along with the application the group must include a $4,000 deposit or collect at least 400 prepaid orders before the plate goes into production.

"The specialty license program has a secular purpose - allowing all nonprofit organizations to identify themselves by a logo or symbol," McMaster wrote in his Aug. 16 opinion. "It is our opinion that the Establishment Clause would not be violated by approval of the plate. Indeed, it is our opinion that denial would infringe upon the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment."

Beth Parks, a South Carolina DMV spokeswoman, said agency officials are reviewing the opinion.

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