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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. tomtomsanidiot

    pro life forever

    December 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  2. Lord Vader

    Can anyone explain the "real harm" these life plates did? Do we have such an intolerant class of people? I say we ban license plates period. It enables the gubiment to track me and force me to pay taxes. God forbid I have to pay taxes when I can't claim the many people on welfare as dependents. Ban the color blue and red as well. They incite wars among black gangs.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • JohnQuest

      None, the plates in and of themselves are not the issue. The State was proposing One view over the other, and that's not consti-tutional. Suppose the State offered only Pro-Choice Plates

      December 11, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • SkepticalOne

      You understand the the government is not allowed to take sides on religious issues right?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  3. Dan

    abortion is murder. I said it, God said it, and noone will change that.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Madtown

      You said it, that's true. But, God didn't say it, or at least we don't know that he did.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • LinCA

      @Dan

      How is what you think your imaginary friend said relevant?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Lokust

      You said it, but it's not true, and your deity of choice was made up just like all the others in our history.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • CosmicC

      That is your belief and you are welcome to it. Claiming you speak for god or know god's mind is, at best, extreme arrogance, at worst insanity.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      I'm calling troll or poe or both on @Dan

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • moga

      You may have said it, but I doubt "God" said it....and just because you believe doesn't make it true for others...just you.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Roger that

      Your Bible does not say that abortion is murder. On the other hand, your Bible does say that ra pe is a-ok.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • hilreal

      So is capital punishement. So is allowing people to die because they cannot afford medical care. So is allowing people to die because they do not have adequate shelter. So is allowing people to die from malnutrition. So is allowing children to die from abuse because of tax cuts to Children's Services organizations.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Andrew

      Mythology is sort of a non-starter Dan. I mean claims that an invisible, silent and completely evidenceless god "said" something really don't add to the debate do they?

      Maybe you could get your god to stop doing a perfect imitation of a mythical god and appear as a giant head over the 50 largest cities of the world today and say something. That would change everything. But we all know your mythical god, like all mythical gods, can't do that.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • tom

      Really Dan? The very same god that commands on more than one occassion for his people to dash the heads of suckling babies against rocks, kills all the first born in egypt etc? He must love babies and kids to command that.

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

      Danny boy: You have no authority to speak for god.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Which God?

      You speak for goD now, danny boy?Prsumptuious pr!ck

      December 11, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  4. gager

    Not all republicans are pro life, only the religious nutcases. I am a repub for choice.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  5. anon

    The solution is simple: Simply offer a pro choice alternative. Put something like choose choice, or choose death. Instead of the faces of innocent, smiling children, put the faces of relieved looking women, or women with traumatic looks on their faces from the psychological horror some claim women experience after an abortion. Or maybe the faces of children with frowns, possibly with a drawing of a baby arm on one side of the plate, with a little leg on the other side of the license plate with drops of blood coming down :)

    Seriously though, don't they offer license plates for all sorts of social issues? They have gay, and straight license plates, along with the rainbows, fish and little crosses. I see plates all over where folks requested a personalized message unique to them. What's the big deal with this one?

    Allow for an alternative plate.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • anon1

      Read the 2nd to last paragraph.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Uh huh.
      "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."
      Lawmakers DELIBERATELY chose to have only one alternative.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • anon

      Oh okay, I see. Yeah, "trust women". Who's suppose to do that, the BABIES?

      Oh wait, they CAN'T be babies since they are in an extremely immature state and don't APPEAR all cute and cuddly yet. Screw biological scientists with their DNA and scientific definitions for life.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  6. William Demuth

    A beating heart is a sign of life?

    Did you know you can but a cows heart and connect it to a 12 volt battery and it will beat??

    Google doing "The Ovid"

    It seems some procreate with them!!

    December 11, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  7. Dan

    regardless of tomtom i will continue to fight for life, even with civil isobedience if i have to.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why don't you fight for better s3x education, access to birth control, and support for women who want to carry a fetus to term instead, Danny? Why not pay the expenses of a pregnant teen and adopt the baby?

      Nah, that would be too sensible. And it would cost you more time and money, wouldn't it? Can't have that.

      Hypocrite.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I just laugh when boneheaded guys like Dan bloviate about their commitment to life and their hatred of abortion.

      You can bet that if they ever found themselves pregnant, they'd be outta that in no time flat.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • OOO

      What's your definition of life? When does it begin?

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

      "Every sperm is sacred....."

      December 11, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Dan

      I'm calling troll or poe or both on you.

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Ya! Right

      Dan
      ....slurp, slurp!!!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • sam stone

      dan: i suggest you try self-immolation

      December 11, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • /0\

      Good, Dan. Commit civil disobedience near me, please.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    And then Mitebite has to lie about what others post. Before you attempt to tell me what I see abortion as being, Mitey, you may want to read my posts again.

    I don't see abortion as any cure-all. However, many researchers view the drop in the crime rate as being a side-effect of it. I don't know that such a view is valid; I simply view this as a rights issue. Women do not become second-class citizens with fewer rights than others enjoy just because they are pregnant. If you think they do, go see the SCOTUS and present your case.

    Do you think you should be forced to have surgery you don't want? The principle is the same.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  9. Andrew

    The "right", making NC look like another hate state.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Dan

      pro life isnt hate. you liberals make me sick.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Dan

      You're right... "Pro-Forced Gestation" ™ isn't necessarily about hate.

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • sam stone

      danny boy: There are conservatives who are pro life. Now, boy, go home and get your shinebox

      December 11, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  10. William Demuth

    Rats!!

    Now I wont know which cars to vandalize!

    At least I can keep on keying those SUV's and pickups with the Jesus fish on the back!!

    Freedom of speech!!

    December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Roger that

      William,

      Get yourself a dinosaur Jesus fish.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  11. John Patrick Grace

    I'm pro life but this sort of slogan belongs on stickers individuals buy and put on their cars. Otherwise, fair-minded people will have to push for a "Protect Women's Right to Choose" messages sponsored by the State of North Carolina to balance out the "Choose Life" message. Unless you're OK with your government selecting slogans for you. As one poster said, How about "Choose Atheism." Or "Execute All Child Abusers."

    John Patrick Grace
    Huntington, West Virginia

    December 11, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • OOO

      Agreed...
      And that's why the argument against this plate should not be to allow all other dissenting opinions (just a Pandora's box there) but to restrict all plates to the original single state plate.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    What's really pathetic is that folks like Mitebite think that a 14-year-old should be punished by being forced to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth because she made a mistake–and then Mite reveals just how really ignorant he/she is by equating getting pregnant with killing a person while driving a stolen car.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Guy

      Tom, Tom, TPS
      But nutters like Mitebite are exactly what the pro-choice folks need to show how dangerous the religious fanatics can be to a free society. When reason and logic fail the Mitebites of the worls strut their stuff.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Amy Onomis

      A BABY is NOT a 'mistake'. 14 year olds get pregnant, that's nothing new, and if they murder their baby they may indeed live long enough (to adulthood) and regret that murder.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  13. different chris

    Good riddance, that was one ugly plate. I'm all for free speech, but seriously, a YELLOW ocean?

    At least it wasn't in Comic Sans.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Huebert

      The one in Alabama is in Comic Sans.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Steven Harnack

      Hey, it's just truth in advertising about the effects of over population!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  14. Outsider

    Let's use some common sense here. Would you like a license plate that said "Choose Atheism"? This type of message belongs on bumper stickers.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Steven Harnack

      Actually, yes. I'd like to see that on ALL license plates.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  15. Dan

    im gonna get one of these plates as a protest to the aclu

    December 11, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • OOO

      Not in North Carolina!

      December 11, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, Danny Boy, that'll teach them.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Andrew

      Don't you have to be smart enough to get a driver's license before you get the plates? You're gonna have some difficulty there...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  16. boocat

    More stupidity from the conservative morons.....these people are a bad joke...

    December 11, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Robert

      these people respect life.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Huebert

      These people respect life *before it is born, after that it is on it's own.

      There I fixed it for you.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Jason

      Conservatives respect life up until the moment it is born. Of course, since they aren't for pre-natal care for the poor, I guess not even really that long.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Jason

      Shhhh.... you're not supposed to mention those little things that get in the way of their myopic views.

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Erica

      @ Robert:
      Respecting life would also mean you don't support the death penalty then, right? I think it's hilarious how "pro-lifers" think it's murder and terrible for a woman to choose to abort a fetus, a clump of cells, and yet they have no problem with the government murdering a living, breathing being. If a woman shouldn't be able to decide whether she should carry her fetus to term and birth a baby, why should a judge or jury decide that another actual being should be sentenced to die? Pro-lifer's are so hypocritical.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  17. BOB

    I think these plates are disgusting! We don't need opinions pasted on the back of our cars concerning a political view! This is the type of crap we get from the Republicans and their religious BS! ACLU is correct in filing a lawsuit! I hope they file it in the other 29 states!

    December 11, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Barry

      Bob, stop for a second and take in to account all the liberals who post political or social agendas on their cars. Don't try to make a point by not stating facts correctly, it makes you look worse than those you are trying to slander.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • William

      I think the opinions pasted on the back of our cars are also called campaign bumper stickers.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  18. Stephanie

    A beating heart is not a "sign of life" - it is simply one organ out of many possible organs functioning in a fetus as it develops toward being viable outside of a womb. As many thousands of ultrasounds have shown, fetuses with severe and terminal and uncorrectable birth defects may have a heartbeat. Usually, that heartbeat eventually stops and the mother miscarries. If the defects are discovered during ultrasound and the mother schedules an abortion, whose business is it, beyond the woman and her doctor, whether or not the heart - of the baby with all organs outside the body and no arms and legs and an undeveloped brain - is beating? Ridiculous. Heartbeat does not equate with "abortion is infanticide." Viability outside the womb, ability to breathe, even if aided, is a much more accurate guidepost to follow when "choosing life." And that happens way along in the pregnancy, not when women are choosing abortions for non-medical reasons. Heartbeat is a non-issue. Ability to breathe? Different story. Stay out of my exam room, stay out of my doctor visits and decision-making, stay out of my uterus.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Stephanie

      Pretty well said.

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Saraswati

      If a beating heart was all it took to require us to give something full rights, all anti-choice folks would be vegetarians. Unless you're a vegetarian, don't even talkto me about "life".

      December 11, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • ATXmaxQ

      You say whatever helps you sleep at night sweetheart, but killing babies is killing babies and there's no way around it.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Lord Vader

      Well put Stephanie. Based on your logic, it should be ok to kill stupid people just because I think they are a lifeless SOB that should not breathe. Thank you!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Stephanie

      @atxmaxq:

      Stay out of my exam room, stay out of my doctor visits and decision-making, stay out of my uterus.

      Stay out of my exam room, stay out of my doctor visits and decision-making, stay out of my uterus.

      Stay out of my exam room, stay out of my doctor visits and decision-making, stay out of my uterus.

      ...ad infinitum...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Jen

      Exactly. And don't forget that the heart doesn't start beating until day 22. If 'abortion stops a beating heart', is one performed before day 22 not considered one? We all have different opinions on when life begins. But that is all they are. Opinions.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  19. COSooner

    Why not just push for a pro-choice option instead of trying to sqaush the pro-life plate? Wouldn't that accomplish the equality that is being sought out?

    December 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Huebert

      Read 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," the affiliate reported."

      December 11, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • DB

      Try reading... a Pro Choice option was voted down by NC lawmakers.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • someguy

      The article states that the representatives quashed amendments that allowed for the pro-choice option already, meaning that the politicians had decided that equal time/ opportunity was not necessary.

      To my understanding, this would require legislation (adding the amendments) or crafting a new law in order to fix the situation. Nullifying the current law would be the only sound thing to do that the courts have any authority to do.

      A complicated situation roiling in politics and deep personal feelings, to be sure.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  20. Mitebite

    Tom tom. If your 14 year old daughter steals your car and kills someone in a wreck, do you wipe the slate because it would be an inconvenience to go to jail. Don't think so. Some decisions have profound lasting effects evennfor those not considered adults. To kill someone to prevent any inconvenience or stress is heinous. You are sad and pathetic in your thoughts. To think that murder is justified in these scenarios. Even if the child isn't wanted it has no chance if it is murdered. Our society values giving everyone a chance unless they are an inconvenient pregnancy. It is then ok to murder them.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope, you lose. Consent to have s#x does not equal consent to carry a pregnancy to term. Hasn't since R v W. Too bad if you don't like it.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Mite, abortion was never considered "murder" even when it was illegal. You really aren't capable of arguing this issue when you compare killing someone who's born with terminating a pregnancy. They are not equivalent and never were.

      Again, if you think that carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth to a baby you didn't want and can't support is just an "inconvenience," then you're welcome to enjoy said inconvenience yourself. You don't get to force anyone else to do so. Women have a right to choose what is best for them. You don't know what is best for anyone else. Butt out.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Mitebite

      Tom tom down to nyah-nyah now is it. Remember roe vs wade an be overturned or state law can be changed. Will you stamp your feet if that happens. I do not favor abortion and view it as murder. You see murder as a cure for social ills. I pity your family if you have one.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Mitebite

      If a pregnant woman is murdered, the perpetual.is usually charged with two counts.of.murder.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Guy

      Mitebite
      There you people go again pushing your religious agenda on those that do not believe as you do. Abortion is not considered murder by the law of the land, get it, so quit calling it murder.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      My word, but you're dumb. Fetal homicide laws ALL exclude abortion. No one ELSE gets to terminate a pregnancy FOR a woman without her consent, dingbat.

      Why feel sorry for my family? They're all pro-choice and not one of us has ever had nor sought an abortion, you bozo.

      Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. It simply means that the person who is pregnant is the only one who should decide what is the best choice.

      R v W isn't going to be overturned. You don't get to decide what someone else does with her body or the contents thereof. Unless you want the state forcing YOU to give blood, donate a kidney, or have surgery you don't want, the principle stands. Women's rights don't end just because they get pregnant.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Huebert

      @Mitebite

      No matter how many times you say otherwise, abortion is not murder. Additionally there has been, a majority of republican appointed justices on the SCOTUS for years and Roe v. Wade still stands. Do you really think it will ever be over turned?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The "perpetual"? Did you mean "perpetrator"?

      Yeah, you're quite the legal beagle.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • rAmen

      FALSE, murdering a pregnant woman does not get you two separate counts of murder. where did you get your law degree? mail-in?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Guy

      Mitebite
      I will tell you what murder is, you nutter. The case in Ireland where a woman was prevented from getting a theraputic abortion because the fetus was not viable and both ended up dead. The reason given for not providing the proper treatment, they were afraid of the backlash from the church. That, honey, is murder.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:59 am |
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