Appeals court: NC cannot offer only anti-abortion plates

Posted February 11, 2014

— A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2012 court ruling that North Carolina's decision to issue special anti-abortion license plates is unconstitutional because the state doesn't offer similar plates supporting abortion rights.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the proposed "Choose Life" plates represent "blatant viewpoint discrimination squarely at odds with the First Amendment."

The decision upholds a December 2012 ruling by U.S. District Judge James Fox in Raleigh, which came 13 months after he blocked the state from issuing the plates while a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union was pending.

North Carolina lawmakers authorized the "Choose Life" plate in 2011, with a portion of the proceeds from sales of the plates earmarked for a nonprofit that supports crisis pregnancy centers. The law prohibited money from the plates from going to any group that promoted abortion.

Meanwhile, lawmakers defeated various amendments to the bill that created the "Choose Life" plate that would have also authorized plates that would have stated “Trust Women. Respect Choice” or “Respect Choice.”

“Today’s ruling protects the right of North Carolinians of all political beliefs to have equal access to avenues for free speech,” Chris Brook, ACLU state legal director, said in a statement. “The government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view. ... We would have made the exact same argument if the situation was reversed, and the state planned on issuing a pro-choice plate while not offering one expressing the opposite point of view.”


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  • roundplanet1900 Feb 13, 2014

    The Judge made a good decision.

    I liked it better when the purpose of a license plate was to show that a vehicle was registered, inspected, and as of recently the owner has paid the vehicle's property tax.

    Vanity special interest plates are a bad idea that confuse authorities and the public with their multi-color designs that differ from standard issue plates.

    The drive for vanity was soley to increase DMV revenues and let people think that their registration plate is special and better than the public at large. But with this latest "choose life" plate design we will move into politics. Using vehicle registration to advance political issues is a bad idea and best avoided all together.

    I think we would be better off if all specialty plate designs were abolished.

  • Danny22 Feb 13, 2014

    Everyone who knows anything about fetal development knows from conception, the fetus is alive. It is heartless to allow the murder of the unborn.

  • california girl Feb 13, 2014

    Why does everyone assume that being pro-life means you are a bible thumper. I am a California transplant that happens to be young and female. I truely believe that there should be some restrictions on abortion... Like no late term and some education on the developement of the baby. Yes i was raised on the lefts view of just a few globs of cells etc until I became pregnant. Once I understood that after the 10-12 week they look like a little human and at week 14 I was able to feel the baby every yhought of abortion flew out of my head. My mother said that after Roe vs Wade they tried to force the maternity ward at her hospital to be the late term abortion location. Sick.

  • patriotsrevenge Feb 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Uh, no, actually there is ANOTHER way to look at it. Say, perhaps a woman being able to make decisions about her own body. See how that works?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Life begins with the man's part...whether a woman is present or not. Why not protect the "sanctity" of that? I mean, we could pass all kinds of laws making sure that men choose life...every time.

    Or, is that too intrusive for ya?

    Does it help you see how it feels?...that some random group deems your male particiption to be "sacred" and "life giving"...and then works to stop you from doing things with your own body when and where you like?

  • ncprr1 Feb 12, 2014

    I can't wait to start seeing the pro-death plates.

    Spare me the "women's right/choice/body/yada yada/whatever" there is only one way to look at someone who willfully takes the life of another human and that is as a murderer.

  • Pensive01 Feb 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Pro-choice is not pro-death. Pro-choice is the stance that any decisions involving a pregnancy are best left up to the people whom are directly involved with that pregnancy, without outsiders forcing their narrow self righteous views down their throats. The Pro-birth side, which is what many of the so called pro-life actually are, are solely concerned with the birth taking place. Once the baby exits the womb it's no longer their concern, except for using it as one more reason to complain about "their" tax dollars being wasted on it.

  • Kathryn Adams Feb 12, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Says you. The last time I checked, YOU don't have God-like dominion over another woman's body. This is about a woman's ability to control her own life and her own body, and your strictly religious-based disapproval counts for exactly zero when it comes to anyone other than yourself.

  • Jeff Johnson Feb 12, 2014
    user avatar

    Seems fair, you can't have a 'pro-Life' license plate without offering a 'pro-death' one. This isn't about a woman's right to choose, it's about life or death.

  • Eric Hammond Feb 12, 2014
    user avatar

    I'm pro-choice, my choice is pro-life. Pepe Silvia

    and that about sums it up! thank-you... it is a HIGHLY PERSONAL and PRIVATE choice and nobody's business but your own... and passing laws forcing people to follow the dictates of one religion is against the 1st amendment, sorry all you anti-choice folks, but what you are attempting to get legislated is un-american!