ACLU sues to get pro-choice plates in NC

Posted September 8, 2011

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— The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed suit Thursday to get the state to produce a specialty license plate that supports abortion rights.

State lawmakers in June passed a bill that authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate. Six amendments to the bill that would have allowed for another plate that stated “Trust Women. Respect Choice” or simply “Respect Choice” were defeated.

“This is a basic issue of freedom of speech and fairness. It is a fundamental tenet of the First Amendment that the state cannot use its authority to promote one side of a debate while denying the same opportunity to the other side," Katherine Lewis Parker, state legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement.

"Anyone who supports freedom of speech should agree with this stance, regardless of one’s position on abortion," Parker said. "Our position would be the same if the state had authorized a pro-choice license plate but not an anti-choice alternative."

The federal lawsuit is seeking a court order declaring that the lawmakers' actions regarding the license plates constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment and requiring the state to stop developing and issuing the “Choose Life” license plate without authorizing a countervailing pro-choice plate.

Choose Life license plate Lawsuit questions fairness in NC license plates

“If anti-choice drivers are permitted to express their views on their license plates, people like me should be able to express our view that women deserve full reproductive freedom,” Sue Holliday, a certified nurse midwife, said in a statement.

Holliday is one of four abortion rights supporters being represented by the ACLU in the suit.

In a similar lawsuit in South Carolina in 2004, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the state could not discriminate between viewpoints on specialty license plates.

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office is reviewing the ACLU lawsuit, a spokeswoman said Thursday.


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  • news4u Sep 9, 2011

    'They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.' -
    Benjamin Franklin

  • mmancuso Sep 9, 2011

    "The ignorant part is allowing one side of a debate get a plate and blocking the other side of the debate. When the government defeated the six amendments they brought this on themselves. The fault is on the government."

    Extactly! Some don't seem to realize how blatantly this violates the First Amendment, which is primarily about protecting us from this type of government action.

  • thefiredog Sep 9, 2011

    When did vanity plates become political speech plates? While I'm against abortion the state should limit them to raising funds for programs at least partially funded by government.

    Archmaker, do work for the lottery commision or the tollbooth authority? Your idea is brillant, especially if we, "do it for the children".

  • Bartmeister Sep 9, 2011

    Gotta love the ACLU. Carrying the torch for the bleeding heart liberals for years. As sad as it is to admit, they have solid ground on this one that actually makes sense........... just puked a little in my mouth........

  • archmaker Sep 9, 2011

    vanity licence plates are for those who apparently don't mind paying higher taxes. i'll stick with the standard 'first in flight' thanks very much.

    its like volunteering to pay more taxes if you can get your 1040 tax forms in wolfpack red or carolina blue.

  • Lead by Example Sep 9, 2011

    “and as for guns laws why would your interpretation of the 2nd amendment trump theirs (ACLU)?” – Haggis Basher

    The U.S. Supreme Court says my interpretation would trump that of the ACLU, remember the cases of “District of Columbia vs Heller” and “McDonald vs Chicago”. The court ruled an opinion that is exactly what I, and most common sense “moderate” Americans, believe regarding “gun-ownership” rights.

    So there are your facts.

  • cartman Sep 9, 2011

    "this is a ignorant law suit. we do not have the money to go to court for this type of rubish. please, judge, throw it out. BUY A BUMPER STICKER"

    The ignorant part is allowing one side of a debate get a plate and blocking the other side of the debate. When the government defeated the six amendments they brought this on themselves. The fault is on the government.

  • miseem Sep 9, 2011

    Looks like the state legislature needs to think about the meaning of the state motto. Look it up if you don't know it. They seem to think a great deal about the state and federal constitutions, including free speech & limited government intrusion on personal beliefs and legal activities. Where they fall behind is being for laws that actually meet those goals.

  • sunshine1040 Sep 9, 2011

    Throw away the abortion rights plates also. Abortion is legal and it is up to the Mother the Father not sperm donor weather or not abortion is an option . I would rather a woman have an abortion then sell her child to obtain drugs or left with someone that will torture and kill the child slowly.

  • tmh1375 Sep 9, 2011

    Your tax money being "wasted" on this lawsuit is the fault of your state government. They KNEW it would go to court and said they "didn't care". They also knew this subject had already been decided in a very similar case and they will lose this case. This IS NOT ABOUT ABORTION! It's a freedom of speech issue. Why not READ the lawsuit filing? (Now mods, how about actually publishing my comment for once?)