By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
March 10, 2016
The Choose Life license plate movement that started in Ocala, Fla., in 1996, is finally a reality in North Carolina. A federal appeals court gave the tags the green light Thursday, reversing the decision it made two years ago when the court deemed the plates unconstitutional.
“This is an incredible encouragement to us. When we started with the state law being passed in 2011, before we could even get to the manufacturing stage, the suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, stopping it dead in its tracks,” said Bobbie Meyer, state director of the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship (CPCF). “We are excited to be gearing up again.”
A network of more than 60 centers that offer life-affirming help for pregnant women and their families across the state, the CPCF will serve as a conduit to get funding from the sales of the plates to the centers. The bill to create the tags in North Carolina, sponsored by former Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-Burke), earmarked $15 per plate for crisis pregnancy facilities.
Thursday’s ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered justices on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at the case in light of the High Court’s 2015 decision in a Texas license plate case.
“The Supreme Court ruled that specialty license plates represent government speech, which is what we have contended all along” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Shortly after the plates were approved by the General Assembly in 2011 and faced their first legal challenge, the CAL pointed out the fact that prior courts had ruled that “the encouragement of childbirth is a legitimate governmental objective.”
“The Choose Life plate lines up perfectly with that goal, so we argued then that it should be considered government speech,” Creech said. “Today, we’re rejoicing that North Carolina can finally get busy producing the plates and drivers who buy them can support crisis pregnancy centers. Ultimately, choosing a Choose Life plate can help save a life.”
Meyer said that by approving the law five years ago, the state of North Carolina made clear its intent to “make a strong pro-life message on our roadways.”
According to www.choose-life.org, Thursday’s ruling will make North Carolina the 28th state to offer a Choose Life plate. Sales of the tags across the nation have raised more than $21 million since 2014.