Judge rules ‘Choose Life’ license plates violate the First Amendment
CHARLOTTE, December 10, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – North Carolina women are free to choose abortion, but not pro-life license plates. A federal judge has ruled the state can only sell a “Choose Life” vanity plate if it also offers a pro-abortion alternative.
U.S. District Judge James C. Fox stated that offering only one side of the argument “constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
The state legislature passed a bill authorizing the pro-life message with dozens of other specialty plate options in September 2011. The ACLU of North Carolina won an injunction against the plates that December.
“We would have made the exact same argument if the situation was reversed,” ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook told local media after Friday’s ruling.
The decision is a setback to the state’s 76 crisis pregnancy centers, which serve more than 3,000 women each year. State drivers would pay a $25 fee for the plate, with $15 going to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship.
The North Carolina House of Representatives had rejected six amendments to authorize license plates with pro-abortion messages like “Respect Choice.”
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Numerous other states offer drivers the option of the pro-life license plates.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told LifeSiteNews.com in April he was proud to be the patron of that state’s “Choose Life” license plate law. “It’s an opportunity for a silent witness in the most ordinary of places: driving around on the road,” he said.
While Virginia offers plates on both sides of the debate, the pro-life plate stands out because “it’s this screaming bright yellow,” he said.
Cuccinelli encouraged LifeSiteNews readers to “spend the extra [money on the pro-life plates] and drive the pro-aborts crazy.”
As of this writing, 29 states offer a “Choose Life” license plate.
Litigation is still pending in New York, where the state has filed its third appeal to block a law allowing the plates.
You may read Fox’s 21-page ruling here.