Abortion license plate fight goes on
“Choose Life” license plates are available in 27 states. Some want to make North Carolina the 28th, but the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) are standing in their way.
Last week, the state of North Carolina announced that it would appeal to the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit a December ruling by a U.S. District Court that found the state’s plan to offer state drivers a “Choose Life” license plate but not an alternative plate with a pro-choice message was unconstitutional.
In September 2011, the ACLU-NCLF filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of North Carolinians seeking a specialty license plate that supports a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. The suit came after the 2011 legislative session, in which the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate.
However, the legislature refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom. Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.” The legislature rejected all six amendments.
Judge James C. Fox granted a preliminary injunction in November 2011 that temporarily blocked production of the “Choose Life” plate; that injunction was made permanent after Judge Fox’s Dec. 7 ruling, in which he concluded “the State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”