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One News Now

‘Choose Life’ License Plate Nixed By Federal Judge

By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
December 11, 2012

RALEIGH — Tar Heel drivers that want to show support for the unborn and at the same time help women facing challenging pregnancy-related decisions once again face a red light — this one in the form of a ruling issued Dec. 7 by U.S. District Court Judge James Fox, who declared the plates unconstitutional because the state doesn’t offer pro-abortion forces a similar avenue of expression.

“Viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment” is how the judge described North Carolina’s intent to offer a Choose Life plate without a pro-abortion plate, agreeing with the legal challenge filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the state in September 2011, months after legislators approved more than 60 new plate designs.

“Where in the First Amendment does it mandate every viewpoint be allowed equal representation? If this is really the case, why can’t we have prayer in the schools? Why can’t Intelligent Design or Creationism be taught on human origins in our public schools? Why can’t we hang the Ten Commandments in our nation’s courtrooms?” Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League asked.

Rev. Creech added, “We have more than 150 specialty plates in our state including an Animal Lovers plate, a Save the Sea Turtles plate and Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains plate. Does this ruling mean lawmakers should also have approved plates for Animal Haters, Kill the Sea Turtles, and Enemies of the Smokies? The ruling is absolutely absurd!”

Dr. Creech also pointed out that viewpoint discrimination was the exact legal premise used to support the issuance of Choose Life plates in New York and in a similar case in New Jersey.

“It’s clear that there is debate over this in terms of constitutionality with most rulings favoring the Choose Life plates,” he added. “That’s one reason we urge the state’s Attorney General to immediately appeal this ruling.”

He also commented on another aspect of the judge’s ruling that centered in part on the issue of whether or not the plates could be considered government speech.

“Prior courts have ruled that ‘the encouragement of childbirth is a legitimate governmental objective,’” he said. “The Choose Life plate lines up perfectly with that goal, so we would argue that it should be considered government speech.”

“Also, we want to make it clear that pro-abortion advocates have had the same opportunity to lobby the Legislature as pro-life groups. For those eight or nine years when pro-life groups were seemingly getting nowhere with lawmakers, where were the abortion folks? They could have been right there pushing for their own tag. But they waited until Choose Life was in the homestretch and then demanded the fruits of the pro-life camp’s labor.”

Dr. Creech referred to the perennial push, led by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-Burke) to persuade lawmakers to consider the Choose Life tag. When detractors demanded a “Trust Women. Respect Choice” tag be added to the bill late in the game, the majority of lawmakers declined, many because they did not want to see funding go to for-profit abortion promoters like Planned Parenthood.

“Obviously, there is a way to make these plates available without opening the door to an alternate plate to support Planned Parenthood. Choose Life tags are available in some 28 states and pro-abortion ones are selling in only four of which I am aware,” Dr. Creech said. “In fact, we’re one of only two states in the Southeast that does not offer the plates.”

Bobbie Meyer, state director of the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a network of more than 60 centers that offer life-affirming help for pregnant women and their families across the state, spoke out about the license plate issue earlier this week.

“Even in states that offer a Respect Choice kind of plate, they don’t sell well,” she said. “The Choose Life plates outsell them.”

Meyer told the host of a talk radio show that the Fellowship, which was slated to receive $15 per Choose Life license plate purchased, would have been just a conduit for funds going to the local communities via the centers.

“The people who lose, with this decision (Judge Fox’s ruling), are those pregnancy care centers that desperately need funds to expand to continue to do what they do,” she said.

Read One News Now story, Court: ‘Choose Life’ Plates Unconstitutional

Hear audio to the One News Now story by clicking here