By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 12, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. — The courts have once again derailed the state’s efforts to offer a Choose Life license plate, as a federal three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday that offering the pro-life plate without a pro-abortion one is unconstitutional.
“North Carolina has 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 ought to have approved plates for Animal Haters, Kill the Sea Turtles, and Enemies of the Smokies? The ruling is absolutely absurd!” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, who called the decision “sadly indicative of the injustice that predominates courts today.” He urged the state to appeal the decision to the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge James Wynn of North Carolina wrote the opinion released Tuesday, arguing in part that the First Amendment prohibits “restrictions distinguishing among different speakers, allowing speech by some and not by others… In this case, North Carolina seeks to do just that: privilege speech on one side of the hotly debated issue — reproductive choice — while silencing opposing views.”
Dr. Creech disagreed.
“Where in the First Amendment does it mandate every viewpoint be allowed equal representation? If this is really the case, why is religious expression so stringently regulated and even disallowed in the schools?” he demanded. “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? The pattern of the courts for several decades now has been to silence opposing viewpoints if those views don’t line up with the prevailing liberal ideology of the day.”
He further pointed out that prior courts have ruled that the encouragement of childbirth is a legitimate governmental objective.
“The Choose Life plate lines up perfectly with that goal, so we could correctly argue the state has a right, even an obligation, to adopt it as government speech,” he added.
Pro-life advocates had pushed for the plates for nearly a decade, making little progress until June of 2011, when Choose Life was approved along with more than 75 other specialty tags. About half the states have made similar pro-life plates available to their drivers, with the Choose Life message raising more than $12 million for pregnancy resource centers across the nation.
“Pro-abortion advocates had the same opportunity to lobby the North Carolina General Assembly as pro-life groups. For those eight or nine years when pro-life groups were seemingly getting nowhere with lawmakers on the Choose Life license plate legislation, where were the abortion folks? They could have been right there pushing for their own tag,” Dr. Creech said. “But they waited until Choose Life was in the homestretch and then demanded the fruits of the pro-life camp’s labor.”
When abortion forces challenged the plates in court, U.S. District Court Judge James Fox ordered an injunction against their production and then ruled against them in December 2012. It was his ruling that was appealed to the Fourth Circuit.