By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
July 30, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. — North Carolina’s Choose Life license plates will once again have their day in court this fall as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit takes up American Civil Liberties Union v. Anthony Tata.
The Tar Heel General Assembly approved the Choose Life plate along with more than 60 other new designs in 2011, but the ACLU immediately cried foul because a pro-abortion plate was not also offered. In December, U.S. District Court Judge James Fox agreed with the ACLU and ruled the plates unconstitutional, citing “viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
The state appealed the ruling and is tentatively scheduled to argue its case in Richmond between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1.
“We join pro-life citizens and the lawmakers who approved this plate in praying that the case will be overturned,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “North Carolina drivers should be able, like those in more than two dozen other states, to speak words of life via their license plates. Furthermore, the sales of these plates would benefit pregnancy resource centers across the state and truly help to save lives.”
In a “friend of the court” brief filed in the case in February, the National Legal Foundation points out that the message of Choose Life is government speech, with lawmakers having chosen, by their vote, to approve its message and not the alternative message of “Respect Choice” or “Trust Women. Respect Choice.” The brief asserts that a state government may use third parties to help disseminate its message, citing a prior case ruling from the Sixth Circuit.
“Government can express public policy views by enlisting private volunteers to disseminate its message, and there is no principle under which the First Amendment can be read to prohibit government from doing so because the views are particularly controversial or politically divisive,” that court ruled in ACLU of Tennessee v. Bredesen.
Dr. Creech had pointed out earlier that it is not in the state’s interest to promote abortion, but rather, as prior courts have ruled, “the encouragement of childbirth is a legitimate governmental objective,” and one which lines up perfectly with the Choose Life plates.
“Be much in prayer for this case as more and more of our freedoms in America tend to hinge on judicial rulings,” he urged. “May God give our courts true wisdom and insight.”