WASHINGTON, D.C, October 5, 2009 ( – The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in Choose Life Illinois v. White, upholding a Seventh Circuit ruling that the Illinois system for approving specialty plates was not discriminatory. 

The case was filed in 2004 after citizens had collected more than the requisite number of signatures, but were denied a “Choose Life” license plate.  In 2007, a Northern Illinois District Court judge ordered Secretary of State Jesse White to distribute the plates.  The Illinois Attorney General's office brought the matter to an appeals court, where the ruling was overturned.

“Ever-increasing numbers of pro-life Americans want to proudly display the 'Choose Life' message on their vehicles – as evidenced by the fact that 22 states now offer such plates,” commented Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life. 

“Illinois is unfairly censoring the freedom of speech of its citizens by not allowing them to obtain a plate with a life-affirming message.”

Mailee Smith, AUL Staff Counsel, noted, “Pro-life citizens in Illinois followed the rules in applying for a 'Choose Life' license plate, but were prohibited from obtaining the plate because the Illinois Secretary of State did not like its pro-life message.  As the last defense for constitutional rights, the U.S. Supreme Court should have stepped in to correct the State's clearly unconstitutional action.”

As in other states, the proceeds from the proposed “Choose Life” license plates would have gone to organizations such as pregnancy care centers that provide adoption counseling and referrals.

Americans United for Life filed a brief in the Seventh Circuit on behalf of a large coalition of Illinois pregnancy care centers.  However, AUL says the court refused to accept the brief.  The Alliance Defense Fund and the Thomas More Society also intervened in the case.

The battle for the popular plates have reached the courts in several states, in most cases leading to victory for their pro-life backers.

On Oct. 7 of last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a similar “Choose Life” license plate case in Arizona – however, in that case, the refusal left in place a ruling favoring the license plates. A 2006 refusal also left New York's “Choose Life” license plates legal.

See related coverage:

Victory: Supreme Court Allows “Choose Life” License Plates in AZ

Court of Appeals Upholds Ruling Against Illinois' “Choose Life” License Plates

Illinois Victory: 'Choose Life' Tags Permitted after Lawsuit against Secretary of State


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