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'Choose Life' license plates ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina
December 11th, 2012
01:13 AM ET

'Choose Life' license plates ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina

By Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) - A federal judge ruled that North Carolina's new "Choose Life" license plates are unconstitutional because the state does not offer a pro-choice alternative.

"The State's offering a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice alternative constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment," U.S. District Court Judge James Fox wrote in the ruling Friday.

The ruling was praised by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had filed a lawsuit in 2011 to stop the specialty plates.

"This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom," said Chris Brook of the ACLU. "The government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view."

Republican state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, who sponsored the bill for the "Choose Life" plates, said he would push for an appeal of the judge's decision, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.

The bill for the license plates passed in 2011, and the legislation also mandated that money raised from the sale of the specialty plates would go to a nonprofit that supports crisis pregnancy centers, WRAL reported.

During the fight to get the bill passed, North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives such as "Trust Women. Respect Choice," the affiliate reported.

The "Choose Life" plates are available in 29 states, according to Choose Life Inc., a nonprofit that helps states that want to sell these specialty plates.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Abortion • Courts • North Carolina

soundoff (3,213 Responses)
  1. Tyronne

    Forgive us Americans, Lord... We know not what we do..

    December 11, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • allenwoll

      Ty - To the CONTRARY ! ! !

      December 11, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • sam stone

      get off your knees, tyronne.

      is your god that petty that he cares what's on a license plate?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • patrickg68

      Forgive us Americans, Mithra... We know not what we do..

      December 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Jon

    Thatguy371 – When you finally mature, you'll cringe when you look back on your days of taking blogs so seriously.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Thatguy371

      I don't take blogs seriously much, and you don't seem to be bright enough to comment within the format of the blog... but then that would take common sense... something you're lacking.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  3. brian

    the words are "CHOOSE LIFE". liberals have to make it about abortion and demand there to be a pro-choice version....
    WHAT'S WRONG WITH PLATE SAYING CHOOSE LIFE? I am sure many other state's plate have statements that can be taken to mean different thing?
    Liberals need to get a job. pay for what they want instead of tax the responsible people while siting at home and complain about everything they don't like... from displays in santa barbara to plates in NC... geez

    December 11, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Apple Bush

      brian, Choose Intelligence. Please.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Scott

      Shut up. I'm liberal. I have a job, and i am almost certain i pay more in taxes than you even make. So your point is?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Observer

      brian,

      Are you just pretending to be so dense as to claim that it doesn't apply to abortion and isn't highly supported by anti-choice people?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • ibelieveinthepeople

      Maybe you missed the part in the article where the proceeds were mandated by legislation to go to pregnancy crisis centers? Yeah, it totally wasn't about abortion.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • Thatguy371

      On behalf of the millions of intelligent liberals, thank you for proving (yet again) your lack of common sense and intelligence. Makes it so easy to laugh off all of you repubs without a brain.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • Darren

      It's a bit of a generalization to lump all liberals into the catagory of lazy bums. Bu it's also a generalization to assume all liberals are pro-choice. A very large percentage of liberals have a christian-based faith and DO NOT support unchecked abortion.

      Oh, and Scott... It's so nice to meet somebody as wealthy as you? Anytime you want to play winner-takes-all Roshambo with portfolios, just let me know.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • Scott

      Darren, please. Your idea of a portfolio is probably a picture of yourself. I'm certainly not going to place bets with anonymous folks on a website. But the point remains. Liberals are not a bunch of folks waiting for a handout. I pay more to the irs each year than median family income. And it should be more.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • frank burns

      "Choose life" is just a tendentiously worded euphemism. It really means to take away a choice, doesn't it.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Tim in MN

      Then why use the phrase "Pro-Life?" Unless you are committing suicide, everyone in this country, if not the world, is "pro-life."
      Why can't people call it what it is? "Anti-Choice." I mean, that IS WHAT IT IS! It is not "anti-abortion, because virtually no one thinks that abortion is a "good" thing.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • huh

      Life has nothing to do with it.

      It should say choose fetus...once it's actually born they couldn't care less what happens to it

      December 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  4. laurapaxton

    So, I can't have a specialty plate for Amnesty International unless People for Political Imprisonment and Torture can have their plate too? PLEASE!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Scott

      Yes. Your point is?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Thatguy371

      Actually no, mainly because this is an exercise in common sense... unlike yours

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  5. NanH

    Another activist driver who chooses NOT to drive around with a Choose Life plate, so without an alternative, I guess I'll just drive around without a plate as I would rather be punished for no plate than being forced to tag my car with one I do not support

    December 11, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Scott

      Hmm. There is no requirement that you have a vanity plate. So your point is???

      December 11, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  6. Penny Wright

    50% of American women will have an unwanted pregnancy in their lifetime. The Republicans want the government to force these women to bring their pregnancy to term. Unwanted children are MUCH more likely to be abused.

    Therefore, Republicans are pro child abuse.

    And don't tell me an embryo is a human being. If it was, the thousands of frozen embryos in fertility labs in this country would have the right to own guns.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Darren

      Only if they've been there for over 18 years.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Darren

      Oh... And they've passed their background investigation and have a clear criminal record.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Scott

      Darren, thos restrictions don't apply to most guns

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • David

      Penny, an embryo is alive and will grow into a child if you don't kill it. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I just don't think she should choose to kill her child.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  7. VicMorrow

    All the state needs to do is offer a "Choose Child Murder" plate and everyone will be satisfied.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Thatguy371

      Didn't you exit this earth after a chopper accident in a Twilight Zone movie? If not, you should have.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Scott

      Sure, and you'd support that plate wholeheartedly, wouldn't you?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  8. Penny Wright

    Science flies you to the moon...

    Religion flies you into buildings.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Darren

      Really? I'm so far behind! I don't even have my pilot's license yet! I guess if I don't hurry up I'll be going to hell?

      Ignorance and a lack of respect for the beliefs of others is what flies airplanes into building, genius! And based on that, you must be a 747 pilot with a beard, turbin, and bad onion breath.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Scott

      Darren, read your own post and follow its logic. You'll find you aren't really supporting your own argument.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • jcd1992

      When does life begin? Do scientists really know? Keep in mind scientist will say "x" is bad for you and then years later a new study will be published that contradicts these findings stating the "x" is now good for you. How many time have we seen this? What if scientist are wrong about when life begins? More importantly, if you believe in God, how can one assume that a scientist's concept of life equals God's? Does one really want to potentially risk the external fate of their soul because it's more convenient to end a pregnancy?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  9. mama k

    Well thank Zeus and Greyhound for that. That's all we need is to see that crap on the road.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  10. BlackDynamiteNYC

    This is a slippery slope with things like this.

    People are so stupid now, they'll hit the back of your car because they don't like your plate. It's best that the state stays out of these personal issues. People mentally can't really handle this much personal freedom of expression.....
    BD

    December 11, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • The Otehr Bob

      Well said. These stuid plates started as a way for states to make money but have taken an even worse turn.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Evil Dr. Wu

      Your kung fu is quite..extra-ordinary...but now it's time for you to die!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  11. Edward Cantu

    I am amazed how people neither love God nor Fear God

    December 11, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • my belief

      How can you fear something that isnt real?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Say it ain't so

      @my belief:
      Easy, same as i don't believe in you cos i can't see you.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Howie

      If you believe in a god of love (as all religions claim to in the sales literature), then why would you fear him? Personally I just don't believe in him. I do fear religious people though.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Say it ain't so,
      "@my belief:
      Easy, same as i don't believe in you cos i can't see you."

      @my belief could prove his existence to you - including a person-to-person meeting within hours if need be. Your god? No.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  12. Heino

    God has forsaken this nation. We're screwed.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Jared

      God is nothing more than an adult version of Santa Claus. It is probably the biggest BS story ever told in the history of mankind and it is all to do with control, brainwashing and maniuplation

      December 11, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  13. loverpoint

    Those Tea Baggers never give up and it shows how out of touch and ignorant they are. While the Rest of the USA is trying to move FOREWARD these fools want the US to move backwards in all the wrong ways.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Heino

      FOREWARD. LOL. Classic libtard education. Call me when you're literate. BTW, if you haven't figured it out already, it's spelled "FORWARD".

      December 11, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Scott

      Funny thing is, in American English, periods go inside quotation marks. So, how smart are you, really?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Observer

      Heino,

      It's always entertaining to hear rightwingers show their hypocrisy with words like "libtard" which uses Palin's kid's condition as a slur.

      Well done. HYPOCRISY lives on.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • I'm Garbage

      Holy cow heino, you nailed him!! Must be all that excellent 'murican edukation!!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Thatguy371

      Hein-y-o, it's always funny when you ultra righties make this lame attempt to try and skirt the issue of why you avoid the issue. I mean, we intelligent progressives have your limited view of reality totally figured out, but you still think you're somehow clever. HA

      December 11, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Scott, the period goes inside the quotation marks if the quotation includes a sentence. If a single word in the sentence is enclosed in quotation marks and is the last word in the sentence the period ends the sentence after the quotation marks.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  14. Correctlycenter

    Anti
    Christian
    Lawyers
    United
    supports the culture of death...

    December 11, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Seth Hill

      It's easy for a coward to use sarcasm and mock those they disagree with. A brave person actually comes out and says what they believe. I believe both "Choose Life" and "Pro Choice" plates should be allowed. What do you believe?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Thatguy371

      Actually, you're "incorrectly ultra rightie"... but who cares. You're still gonna think you're limited concept of reality is somehow in vogue

      December 11, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Seth, I believe vanity plates are a waste of money.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  15. sammano

    Simple solution. Just create a "I Love Killing Innocent Babies" plate.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Scott

      Add "in other countries" and then you'd be closer to the truth.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Thatguy371

      What a ridiculous and totally wacked view of this issue

      December 11, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  16. Jon

    Yeah! And I want my kill the whales plate!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Seth Hill

      Please come out and say what you believe, not just mocking. Do you want "Choose Life" plates to be allowed, but "Pro-Choice" plates to be not allowed? If not, what is your opinion?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Jon

      What about my right to enjoy good tasty whale meat? Or at least show my support for people who enjoy tasty whale meat on my license plate?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Thatguy371

      When you finally mature, you'll cringe when you look back on your days of writing moronic comments on blogs

      December 11, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Jon

      Thatguy371 – When you finally mature, you'll cringe when you look back on your days of taking blogs so seriously.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  17. Chris

    So if there was a plate with the phrase "Choose Death" then everything would be OK?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Scott

      As if that's the opposing view. Grow up.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Thatguy371

      What a moronic comment

      December 11, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Aristocles

      Chris has a point. The phrase "choose death" would be allowed, but not "choose life."

      December 11, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  18. DC

    Of course, the politicization of license plates was inevitable....states are looking for more funds by giving drivers/taxpayers what they want in terms of a custom plate....better off just going back to 'basic' plates for everyone ....otherwise who knows how far special interest groups will take this...

    December 11, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Jon

      Too many specialty plates. Too true.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  19. Thatguy371

    "Republican state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, who sponsored the bill for the "Choose Life" plates, said he would push for an appeal of the judge's decision, CNN affiliate WRAL reported."

    So IOW this repub doesn't mind wasting money fighting this LEGAL win for this issue, but has a problem funding Planned Parenthood, help for the needy, etc etc etc. Good to see at least the repubs are consistent..... ALWAYS wrong.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  20. Lizard Lance

    Another activist judge who overstepped his responsibilities and used his position to advance his own narrow view. So, do we need an "anti-" plate to counter ever plate that endorses an activity, such as hunting, fishing, education, and so on? Apparently so. So dumb.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Thatguy371

      No we don't need an "anti" plate for everything. Just the things that MATTER.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Seth Hill

      So, do you want to deny me my option to buy a "pro-choice" license plate, if that is my belief?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • ibelieveinthepeople

      A "narrow view" is exactly what that judge overturned. And yes, let's compare the issue of abortion with activities like hunting and fishing. Great.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Scott

      I am betting he's only an activist judge because you don't like what he ruled.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • o0o0o, activist judges!

      Your comment is typical of someone who wants to quash the rights of others that run opposite your beliefs.

      The state government of North Carolina is anti-choice in offering only a "choose life" plate. I wouldn't choose the (unavailable) opposite plate because the anti-choice wingnuts would likely vandalize my vehicle. Funny how that works.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:44 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.