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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. yneemee

    I suppose a Choose Free Speech plate would also offend the ACLU and the Federal Court – the judges make a joke of themselves and the bench with such silly rulings

    December 11, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • andyouare

      Did you even read the article?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • nolapearl

      Did you read the article? It appears the free speech of Pro Choice people is in danger, not pro life. What's bothersome to me is that conservative activists want their free speech protected but have no tolerance for people who believe differently. Don't want their free speech or their beliefs protected under the law.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  2. are122

    We've had these in Florida almost forever!

    December 11, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • lackingsense

      Stay classy, Florida.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Yeah, Florida, the state that STILL can't seem to count ballots in Presidential elections. A lot to be proud of there.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      Blame your grandparents that move to Florida.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Alex Uribe

      It was a beautiful 80 degrees out today. How's the weather where you're from? ;) Miami, FLORIDA > you.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  3. Jim

    The government has no business making these plates whether they are "pro-choice" or "pro-life". Free speech isn't about choosing among a small set of government pre-approved messages.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • richunix

      Outside any religious issues, I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks

      December 11, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      Exactly

      December 11, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      richunix, please explain your qualification "outside any religious issues."

      December 11, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  4. chris

    man poor republicans, they can't win for losing

    December 11, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  5. Barry Litherland

    If there had been a "Choose Death" license plate choice available, the court would not have accepted the case. Ludicrous!

    December 11, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • sam stone

      if the other side had been denied their plates, the court would have had the same ruling.

      persecution complex?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      Sorry Choose Death wasn't one of the suggested options. Try again.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      Since the ppro-choice side doesn't think of this as death, your 'point' is ridiculous. These plates are designed to support the pro-life position, so the alternative would be a plate that said something like "Support a woman's choice". But there aren't only two sides to most of these issues whichis where thewhole ideaofputtingopinionsongovt sanctioned plates becomes abbsurd. And I mean ALL of them. Get rid of the Save the Whales plates, too (and I personallysupport whale-saving). But there are many who aren't comfortable with even this,because it IS political and does imply a lot of political and economic policies that are controversial. If I want to express my desire to save the whales I can perfectly well disgout the $3.50 for a bumper sticker orplate frame.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  6. anahadwolves

    As proof that the Right Wing weren't interested in free expression nor an opposing view but only wanted THEIR views expressed, re-read this from the article:

    "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".

    Right Wingers think that only their viewpoint is valid and acceptable. The judge told them otherwise. Good for him.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    Before "choosing life", one should consider what kind of life is being offerred the wee blastocyst rapidly gestating inside the uterus.
    If the child is brought to term, what will be it's quality of life?
    Will the father be in the picture to help provide a stable family? Will there be other family support, IE: grandparents?
    The answer is all too often "no" in cases where a woman is considering abortion.
    Does the potential parent have the means to clothe, house, educate, and care for the health of not only a child, but also herself?
    If circ.umstances are such that caring for a child is not a feasible option, what of adoption?
    Of the approximately 500,000 children in foster care,130,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. On average, around 45,000 are adopted per year. Half of kids in foster care will spend years shuffling between homes. This instability translates into a much higher prevalence of dropping out of school, addiction, homelessness, incarceration and suicide once these children get to their teen years.
    Would you choose a poor, nasty brutish life for the potential human growing inside?
    Difficult questions that can only be addressed by the individual facing the choice.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      Let's also keep in mind that the same people that want these destined-to-be-troubled kids to be birthed also want to eliminate the social services they will likely require. A tragic picture of irony.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  8. Southern Humanist

    Are these the anti death penalty and anti 2nd amendment plates?

    December 11, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Mike

      This would've been much easier (and much cheaper in legal fees) if they just provided a pro-choice license plate as well.

      Oh wait, that's not PC, is it?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The whole reason for the case is that there IS no choice in SC.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Brian

      One could argue that the term "Choose Life" is actually a pro-choice slogan. After all, the first word is choose. With pro-life, there is no choice. So it's a "Force Life" movement instead of choice.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Southern Humanist

      I wonder what the "Choose Death" plates might look like – creepy I bet. ha!

      December 11, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      @Brian
      You can argue anything you want. That doesn’t make it true. “choose life” is well established as a religious anti-abortion slogan.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  9. doughnuts

    Why is there even an option? Specialty plates and vanity plates should be gotten rid of. If you want to express yourself or let your interests or positions be known on your car, then get a bumper-sticker or a window sticker or a custom paint job or some other thing.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Belisarius85

      I especially dislike the "Helping Schools" and "Educator" licence plates. Those darned teachers are always causing trouble.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      Because specialty plates are cash cows for States. Spending extra on a plate to "express myself" to strangers sitting in traffic with me isn't worth anything monitarily to me.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Because it makes the states money.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  10. Charles F

    Ruling shouldn't have stopped there. The bench should have spoken about how god awful ugly the design is as well.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  11. Kiruba

    Now we need to get Kentucky's "In God We Trust" licence plates put out of production.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • doughnuts

      Wishful thinking.
      We can't even get some of the judges to pay attention to SCOTUS rulings on the 10 Commandments in the courtroom.
      (I'm looking at you, Estill County)

      December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • mindy

      Ridiculous decision and statements here are totally unbelieveable!

      December 11, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      I agree. Hicks would have more money to spend on smokes and booze if they didn't blow coin on specialty plates proclaiming their love for their sky fairy.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  12. Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

    I’d like to see this happen in Florida also. It’s funny how hypocritical theists are. If there had been a pro-choice tag they’d have been calling for the Gubment to stay out of their lives. Down with the nanny state… right Cletus?

    December 11, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      Florida is supported by free-thinking progressive metro areas but governed by broke bible-pounding tards.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • merlinfire

      Abortion is a human rights issue, not just a religious one. Pro-life advocates aren't saying the woman isn't a human being. Pro-choice advocates are saying that about the child. Dehumanization is a clear sign of a human rights violation.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nonsense, merlin. I doubt you have ever discussed the issue with a woman. And your blow-up date doesn't count. The fetus is alive. It doesn't have the legal rights women have. Nor can it. That's the point.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Saraswati

      @merlin,

      By saying oneq is a full humanat conception the pro-lifers are saying a woman and her life is as valuable as an eight celled organism with no neurons, less complexity than a flat worm. That's a human rights issue when you want to throw my life away to save something less conscious than the chicken you had for dinner.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      @merlinfire
      I see you theists are getting desperate. What other straws are you going to reach for before you get it? It’s well established ”pro-lifers’ (the term was even coined by Christians) based their belief on their RELGION in direct contradiction to science and law.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  13. Dan

    Choose Life is a "pro-choice" plate. It mentions a choice, and encourages a choice of life. The opposite plate wouldn't be 'pro-choice' it would say 'choose death.'

    December 11, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Jamie

      How can you kill something that doesn't even meet the biological definition of life yet?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Dan, have you ever been pregnant?

      Strike that. Have you ever had a brain cell that worked?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Nice Spin Dan

      Wrong Dan.

      Pro Choice = Promotion of allowing people to choose
      Choose Life = tell people what to choose.

      Ask a grown up to explain it to you.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • dwt

      More fairly put, the opposite would be "Choose Choice."

      December 11, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  14. Erkel

    Thank goodness that someone still has there senses with them. North Carolina is a state without a conscience and this judge stuck it to them. Good for him/her. I'm so sick of these self-righteous idiots preaching at me telling about how life is so precious and yet they don't do any work to stop gun violence or hunger.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  15. michaelmassey2012

    I wonder what the "religious freedom" conservatives would be saying to a "Choose Satan" vanity plate.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      We already know the answer to that.

      'ATHEIST' plate raises a holy ruckus

      Steven Miles has tooled around Gainesville for 16 years with a license plate that says "ATHEIST."

      To Miles, it is a form of self-expression, one he is happy to spend a few extra dollars every year to keep.

      But to the state of Florida, the tag is "obscene or objectionable," according to a letter Miles received last month from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. That puts the personalized plate on the department's blacklist, right up there with epithets, expletives and words describing certain body parts.

      The state must use "great caution" in screening plates, the letter said. Medical reference books are consulted. Slang dictionaries, too.

      "The plate must be canceled," it ordered. Officials want it mailed back.

      Continue..

      http://www.sptimes.com/2002/03/14/State/_ATHEIST__plate_raise.shtml

      December 11, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  16. glades2

    Sure, there's an alternative to choosing life – death – strange times we live in, that's for certain...

    December 11, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  17. fomega64

    I get it. The state needs to issue a plate that says "Kill Babies" to satisfy the Liberal people killers. So do it!

    December 11, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      You'd enjoy a plate that says "wFinancially support your local b.astard children".

      December 11, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, look. Another moron pipes up.

      Why don't you go adopt a few children from foster care, hypocrite? Why don't you pay the expenses of a teen-age mother? Baby-sit for her so she can go back and get her high school diploma?

      Hypocrite.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • heliocracy

      You don't get it at all. I guess it's too much to ask for conservatives to be smart enough to actually understand the position of those who don't agree with them.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Jamie

      Last I checked, killing babies is illegal. Terminating a pregnancy is not. If you think that every fertilized egg is a human being, then are you in favor of arresting women that have a miscarriage?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Abraham

      No, there just needs to be other options: "Choose karma", "Choose reason" and "Choose Jihad" for people of *gasp* other religions and ideologies.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • bfpiercelk

      HUR DUR I MADE A FUNNY

      December 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Erkel

      The state should issue a plate a just for you: IM2DUMB

      December 11, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • ozcanj

      I have no issue with abortions. Some people make a bad decission and it could seriously effect the rest of their life. I can see it happening once but the young girls that elect to use it as a form of birth control and have numerous abortions are a problem.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • sam stone

      fomega64: libs this, libs that. grow a brain

      December 11, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Nice Spin Dan

      I agree with you fomega64.
      But lets make it simple.
      They should issues a plate that say:
      "fomga64 will decide everything for everyone"
      I mean its not like we live in a free country or anything.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  18. Andrew

    Why do fundamentalist christians insist on injecting their religion into the state? Why can't they just accept the separation of church and state as being of paramount importance in any democracy? I am starting to think that fundamentalist christians should be charged with sedition and treason and jailed. They are the most unamerican Americans of all time.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Dan

      Well why don't you separate your politics from your worldview? Because it's impossible.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • jj

      Why? Because they are idi0ts.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Unlicensed Plates

      Christianity is dying if it's not growing. It's the same way with soft drink sales. Gotta be constantly finding new customers.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • mhub

      Absolutely! Religion, when practiced in the heart and in religious communities is a fine thing, but when it's forced on others it loses all remnants of spirituality.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Erkel

      They want to show you how self-righteous they are. They also want to be sure you know they go to church.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • jj

      Dan....what makes you think he doesn't separate his world view from his politics? An aweful lot of people don't seem to truley understand what freedom is. Freedom isn't seeing things the way some politician or religious person wants you to see them and you should not be subjected to accept those points of view in your everyday life. Seems like no religious person really wants anyone to think independently....but rather they should feel exactly as the religious person thinks they should feel. Be ever diligent in the separation of church and state. The middle east doesn't have that....and look at em.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • RapierPoint

      You do realize that "Choose Life" isn't necessarily injecting religion into the issue. "Abortion is Murder" would be what you are describing. "Choose Life" fits right in with Pro-Choice. It's merely a suggestion of which direction to make the choice.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      @RapierPoint
      Afraid not. “Choose life” was created by religious fundamentalist based on their faith and goes against both science and law. Nice try though.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Andrew

      @RapierPoint Who do you think you are kidding? I suspect someone tried that on the judge and he laughed at them like I am laughing at you. The basis of these plates is, without question, religious. It is one flavor of one religion, fundamentalist christianity, trying to force its mythological dogma on all of us. For you to pretend this isn't about religion inserting itself into government is foolish, because by doing so, you not only show you live in a bubble where obvious facts are denied, but you tacitly acknowledge that the separation of church and state is foundational and a good thing.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Nice Spin Dan

      Its not impossible Dan...not at all.
      See, your politics and your worldview are yours. No one is forcing you to give them up, or think differently.
      So all you have to do is not impose them on others and respect the fact that other people have their own politics and worldveiw as well.
      By the way. North Carolina has the death penalty...so when are the plate coming out that say "Ban the death penalty"?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  19. Unlicensed Plates

    Florida has a Choose Life plate also. I'm looking foward to a Choose Abortion plate to balance things out. Not likely–the state capital is in the broke Old South dump of Tallahassee. They take the tax revenues from us South Floridians and tell us how to live and what to do.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Jamie

      How about just, "Choose choice"? Most pro-choicers are NOT pro-abortion, they just believe that women are intelligent enough to choose for themselves.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      @Jamie
      How about we leave religion and opinions in general off of government issued license plates. Do you want your SS card saying “pro-v@ginal ultrasounds”?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Mark

      Your comment eerily sounds like the federal government! Located in a BROKE and moral-less place, taking our tax money and telling us everywhere in America how to live. Doesn't sound so fair now does it?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  20. Breanne

    And what would the pro choice option say, "Kill Babies"?

    December 11, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "Choose Wisely"

      December 11, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • mhub

      If you read the article, you'd see that they suggested 'Trust women. Support choice'.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • ReallyFair&BAlanced

      it would say
      1. Fight Intolerance
      2. Distrust Bigotry
      3. Religion is Heart of Evil
      4. Practice Real Forgiveness
      5.Jesus Wasnt a ProfLife American

      December 11, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Andrew

      "Keep Your Religion To Yourself"
      "Freedom!"
      "Your Body, Your Choice"
      "Biblical Misogyny is Evil"
      "Jesus is a Myth"
      "Separation of Church And State Forever!"
      "Christians Hate Freedom"
      "Mind Your Own Business"
      "Leave Those Women Alone, You Republican A**es"

      December 11, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Erkel

      How ignorant can you be?

      December 11, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Dr. Dare Kill

      "ABORT ALL"

      December 11, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • you2

      Kill babies? Maybe that should be on all military vehicles!

      December 11, 2012 at 9:23 am |
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