As always, we would like to remind you that this is not a religious debate. We're talking about a license plate.
One almost has to wonder if New Jersey was actually looking to stir up a shit storm of controversy and anger with this one. The state recently rejected a request made by a motorist for an “ATHEIST” vanity plate, despite its not being on the banned list or violating any existing written guidelines. All states have the right to judge these things on an individual basis, but an inconsistency in these dealing can still be trouble.
The problem here is that New Jersey has not previously felt the need to ban plates that espouse the owner’s personal beliefs, so the decision to do so here is questionable. Adding to the problem for the state, the man whose request was turned down is the president of American Atheists, an advocacy group for the separation of church and state, and he is well versed in such legal matters. He has already filed his first appeal. A case could certainly be made that discussing personal beliefs of any kind on a license plate is fairly tasteless, but the fact that the Athiest license plate is acceptable in other states makes it clear that some states believes and protects certain civil liberties more than others.