A federal judge has blocked South Carolina’s “I Believe” license plates. See Summers v. Adams, 3:08-2265-CMC (D.S.C. 2008). Order granting Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.
The Court relied upon the three-part test laid out in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). Under that test, a government action must meet all three of the following requirements in order to conform with the Establishment Clause.
- The action must have a secular purpose – FAIL
- The action must have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion – FAIL
- The action must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion – FAIL
The judge determined:
Based on the record now before the court, the court finds it unlikely that the “I Believe Act” satisfies even one of these requirements. As the Act must satisfy all three requirements to survive constitutional scrutiny, the court concludes that Plaintiffs have made a strong showing of likelihood of success on the merits as to their Establishment Clause Claim. (Op. at 4).
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a press release here. The filings, to-date, in the case are available on that page as well.