By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
WILMINGTON — North Carolina drivers seeking “Choose Life” specialty plates have been detoured once again, this time by a federal judge who on Monday temporarily blocked the state from issuing the license plates.
“This is unfortunate but not unexpected, as the ACLU has contested these plates virtually everywhere they’ve been offered,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We anticipate the law allowing the plates will eventually prevail in court, and drivers will be able to purchase them here as they do in many other states.”
In fact, the preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge James Fox comes on the heels of a federal ruling paving the way for the Choose Life plate in New York, a ruling based on the same claim made by the pro-abortion forces in North Carolina, that of viewpoint discrimination.
The NC-ACLU lawsuit, filed Sept. 8 on behalf of four pro-choice automobile owners, claims the plate violates the First Amendment because the state doesn’t offer one to tout abortion rights.
But when the suit was filed, Barbara Holt, president of N.C. Right to Life, pointed out that “Pro-life groups worked for years to get a ‘Choose Life’ specialty plate through the General Assembly. There is nothing to prevent the individuals who are suing the state from putting forward the same effort to get a plate of their own.”
Choose Life was among some 79 specialty tags approved in June as part of House Bill 289, sponsored by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell). Gillespie had pushed the issue for nine years with little to show for it until new GOP leadership allowed the bill to be heard. A handful of Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure, which had been promoted heavily by N.C. Pro-Life Democrats.
The Legislature voted down attempts to amend Gillespie’s bill to add a “Respect Choice” plate to benefit Planned Parenthood. Proceeds from the Choose Life plate have been earmarked for the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship (CPCF), a network of non-profit pregnancy resource centers across the state.
Bobbie Meyer, director of CPCF, told the Christian Post she believes the plate will eventually be approved in court and allowed to hit the road in North Carolina. She also questioned the ACLU’s motive in the case.
“If their concern was really about ‘free speech’ and an equal message, why was there not a Respect Choice license plate introduced during the eight-year period prior to 2010?” she asked.