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Judge dismisses case over Indian image on license plate

Filed Under: Law
More on: oklahoma, religion

The Oklahoma license plate features the Sacred Rain Arrow sculpture by Apache artist Allan Houser (1914-1994). Image from Oklahoma Tax Commission

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Indian image on the Oklahoma license plate.

The plate is based on the "Sacred Rain Arrow" sculpture by Apache artist Allan Houser. Keith Cressman claims the image violates his Christian beliefs.

But Judge Joe Heaton said the image itself isn't religious. He said a "reasonable observer" would not believe that the state is trying to promote a set of certain beliefs.

"A reasonable observer would likely assume something akin to what the evidence suggests Oklahoma was trying to convey -- that Oklahoma is Native America, or some formulation similar to that," Heaton wrote. "However, plaintiff has made it clear, both at the hearing and in the various pretrial submissions, that he does not object to anything suggesting or promoting the idea that Oklahoma is Native America."

Cressman plans to appeal, his attorney said.

Get the Story:
Judge rejects minister's claim on Oklahoma plate (AP 1/14)
Judge shoots down Oklahoma pastor's license plate complaint (The Tulsa World 1/15)

District Court Decision:
Cressman v. Thompson (January 14, 2014)

10th Circuit Decision:
Cressman v. Thompson (June 11, 2013)

Related Stories:
10th Circuit revives case over Indian image on license plate (6/12)

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