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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. Harvey Wallbanger

    I have no problems with the state offering Pro Life plates as long as they offer Pro Choice also. Just like I have no problems with high schools teaching the theory of evolution along side the theory of creationism.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Will

      In what class? There is no theory of creationism except in religion classes, which public schools can't teach.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Josh

      I think you need to look up what the scientific definition of theory is.

      I'll give you a hint, it is not a synonym for hypothesis.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • sam stone

      will: they can in comparative religion classes

      December 11, 2012 at 3:09 am |
  2. Jdevil1735

    They can get around it – by simply offering a license plate that says – murder a unborn child and then show an aborted fetus. That would be the other viewpoint I guess. I don't have a problem with people have a choice – up to the first trimester – but in general the people who claim to support choice – only want to discuss abortions and NOT life.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Observer

      Wrong. Pro-choice people want to discuss the LIFE of the mother and other children that might be born later BECAUSE of planned parenthood.

      Guess again.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • sam stone

      it's not murder according to the law of the land

      December 11, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Guest

      Like my sibling found out, there might not BE another child. They were talked into opting for a later child that never came, when they could have just gotten married a little sooner. They were never able to have a baby after choosing.....poorly. Sterility is a risk they did not publicize much.
      Abortion is the 5th leading cause of maternal death according to a 1997 study from Finland. a 2-3% risk of perforating the uterus. 48 % risk of the abortion causing problems with subsequent pregnancies. There is also a 800% increase in breast cancer if you have an abortion before 18. Plus women choosing abortion carry a 60% higher risk of death from natural causes within a year than women who carry to full term.
      It really looks like adoption would be a safer option that could also benefit infertile or gay couples. Just the increase in prematurity we have from this alone has extreme consequences that makes abortion a non viable solution. Costly in NICU admissions & in permanently disabled children.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • trustin

      That is so untrue. To be pro-choice, is to make the life of the mother paramount. This is especially true in the case of teenage girls. We don't need more babies in this world. What we need are more responsible parents. Parents who want to take the time, embrace the responsibility, and have the resources to r a child to become a contributing member of society. This responsibility should never be the result of coercion or punishment or guilt.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  3. Survivor

    So, is the solution to have 2 license plates – would that be acceptable?
    One that says "Choose Life" with pictures of happy, smiling children.
    And the other that says "Choose Death" and a picture of a dead fetus.
    Would that do it? Level playing field then, right?

    December 11, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • Observer

      or how about a "Choose LIfe" tag with an old man with missing teeth and a "Choose Death" tag with a tortured and murdered unwanted child?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I think we should have license numbers on license plates. And a stupid state mottos like, "Oklahoma is OK!" or "The Show Me State".

      December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • MoronChecker

      You obviously cannot or refuse to read out of willful ignorance.

      "Trust Women. Respect Choice," - it's right there in the article, now isn't it?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • keingeld

      you must be new here, moronchecker.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • Survivor

      So, Observer, are you saying that the old man with some missing teeth should have been killed in the womb so that he didn't have to suffer the torture of missing teeth? And of course, killing the abused child would have prevented the abuse. Yeah, maybe you're on too something. Hey, does your teeth hurt?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  4. Apple Bush

    God has you in his book. He has a plan for each of us. He knows when you will be born and when you will die.

    He is therefore responsible for all death, murder and destruction for all of history including every abortion ever performed, every rape, every murder, every miscarriage, every atrocity.

    He is perfect. He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. So how could this not be so? It is God’s will.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Libertarian Atheist

      This God fellow you speak of sounds like a real &^$(*&!

      December 11, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  5. Mai

    I applaud the North Carolina Federal Court for its ruling on this issue: This case was largely about about the State's violation of Free Speech. It chose to impose ONE viewpoint, while suppressing the other (NC lawmakers struck down the idea of having pro-choise plates as well). The issue also extends beyond just speech. Because the controversy behind abortion is largely a religious issue, by allowing one license plate, and not another, the state imposes its own religious viewpoints on its own citizens. North Carolina, you wanted to dodge this bullet, a bumper sticker would have sufficed.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Mai

      **** North Carolina, IF you wanted to dodge this bullet, a bumper sticker would have sufficed.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • VIPoole

      Concur in every way possible.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  6. SixDegrees

    [Nelson Voice] Ha, ha!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • sam stone

      gotta love nelson

      December 11, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  7. keingeld

    The only thing offensive about this plate is that it looks like it was designed by a four year old on MS Paint.

    Sincerely,

    One NC driver who believes that expressing opinions via license plates is pretty stupid, no matter the cause.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  8. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from "divinity".

    Why are old men obsessed with the se'x lives of young women ? Creepy.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I know, check with pop. He seems pretty obsessed!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • VladBudapest

      My wife is 20 years my junior...what do you want me to do, not care?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  9. Robyn

    The only way to allow people to post their political or economic or social or religious views on license plates would be to allow every person to construct their very own 100% customized license plate. A completely nutty idea.

    As 'Rickey H' has previously noted in this forum, the purpose of a license plate is not a forum for free speech. If this were allowed, a logical extension would be that I would like to embed a message in my driver's license number, and next, in my social security number. In this way lies madness.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  10. government cheese

    I remember a doctor in New York cutting the spinal cords of new born children after they were born.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Apple Bush

      and....

      December 11, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Rickey H

      Alright, cruelty to children. Horrific. But what does that have to do with a state allowing anti-abortion license plate, but refusing to allow an alternate opinion on the matter?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  11. Stacey Campbell

    Does not the word "CHOOSE" imply choice? What should they put? "Choose Life, or choose to kill your baby?"

    December 11, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Rickey H

      "Choose Life" implies and encourages a PARTICULAR choice, that choice being the avoidance of abortion. When a state not only sponsors and profits from such opinions, but refuses to provide an alternative license plate reflecting an opposing opinion, that state has overstepped the line that prevents states from directly funding, supporting, and pushing a particular viewpoint, while suppressing and/or refusing to allow similar expression of another.

      Again, leave vehicular free speech to the bumper stickers.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Guest

      So by your logic, you'd be ok if the plate said, "Choose Abortion"?
      It is emphasizing choice, after all....

      December 11, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  12. Aristocles

    What a load of crap. It's censorship at its most petty, and will only galvanize support for the pro-life cause.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Freedom and equality is a load of crap? Perhaps you would enjoy living in Iran or N Korea?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Fred Evil

      If that is censorship, then what do you call the representatives voting down amendments to permit pro-choice nameplates? THAT is censorship. THAT is what got this stricken down.
      Don't whine about censorship when YOUR guys started it.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • MOCaseA

      And the law makers voting down the alternative plates wasn't suppression of free speech? If you want to smite one side, you must smite the other as well.

      Also, there is NO SUCH THING as free speech when it comes to government or assumed governmental support of any religion based belief. People want to throw out the the American money has "In God We Trust" on it. Well which God? The Christians automatically assume that it is their God. Well I automatically assume that it is MY God (non-christian). It is ambiguous enough that should Christianity fail, and another faith with a God comes to the forefront, we wouldn't have to change the slogan. It would still be applicable.

      As for this obscenely biased license plate, it is an overt and OBVIOUS support for pro-life politics. These women's crisis centers that are supported... they only receive the support IF they are 100% anti-abortion. If they even hint at the need for an abortion, or are reported hinting at it, they immediately lose their funding. Most wouldn't though as they are controlled by churches (look at that, you buy a specific license plate and you are automatically paying into a Church organization, through the STATE!).

      December 11, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  13. matt

    what about a license plate that says

    CHOOSE POOP

    December 11, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Robyn

      POOP (People Opposed to Obnoxious Plates)
      Sign me up.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • ciera

      Do i know you?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Dover

      This is North Carolina,.....THROW POOP is more like it.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • geeky

      Best response yet! LOL

      December 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  14. pop

    the reality is that abortion = the killing of human life...
    if you want to believe this is ok. that is your freedom of choice...

    this will not help you in any way or form. you can believe what you want, heck you can even believe the sun isn't going to come up tommorow morning...
    but it will,

    the fact is, a fetus is a human, small in size. If you want to support the murdering of the fetus, then this is on your hands alone.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • Observer

      Yes, and an egg and a a chicken are the same thing to you.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • pop

      fertalized one, yes sir...

      December 11, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • Where are we going?

      Its hard to sway liberals, when those people dont know what "values" are.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from "divinity".

      Most women use Plan B. Abortion would be unnecessary if you idiots allowed decent s'ex ed in the schools. YOU cannot tell us when exactly human life begins.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • Observer

      pop,

      I'm not really surprised that you can't tell the difference.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • Larry Holmes

      I like Eggths....I loves thum. I love thum hard boiled, poach, over easy, scrambult. thunny side up. I loves eggths...

      December 11, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • pop

      how about when a baby can move it's hands???

      still not alive?, because they are aborted at all stages my friend..

      where do 'you' draw the line... I draw the line from the very earliest stages...

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Apple Bush

      pop, I draw the line with people who don't mind there own business. You don't have to agree with it. If you don't like it don't do it. The lives of women and men with an unwanted pregnancy is none of your business. None. Zero. Bug off.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Cooliosis Unrooliosis

      You're right abortion is murder. So should we start dropping off orphans at your place? The death penalty is murder as well, are you for that? I love how so many people who say abortion is murder are simultaneously in support of capital punishment. Maybe not you, but perhaps you can elucidate. The bottom line is, the taking of another life, whether it's abortion, capital punishment, the killing of enemy combatants, etc. is all murder. You either sanction murder for various reasons, or you don't. The only people who are really consistent in this regard are true pacifists and Gandhians. Everyone else (me included) are inconsistent. I believe that abortion is tragic but necessary murder, just like the death penalty, just like killing Osama Bin Laden etc. Sometimes, it's better just to kill those you don't want around.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Angel

      Abortion stops a beating heart.
      And I'm glad.
      More trees. Less people.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Fred Evil

      We can't help the willfully ignorant, and you pop, are beyond help.
      Of abortions are wrong, then why does god abort MILLIONS every year?
      Your god is a murderer by your own illogical and distorted definition.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • pop

      so your classing babies in the same 'neccesary' evil as osama bin laden and people of the death penalty???

      more trees less people......????
      you know that going vegetarian saves more trees then any child will use up mate... even al gore and obama admit that the vegetarian lifestyle is the single most effective way of saving trees.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • MOCaseA

      That is your personal belief, but frankly it isn't supported by mans law. And as your God has yet to reveal himself to the world as the ultimate authority, well I'll stick with man's law and you can keep your God out of it. Thank you for your insightful, but completely meaningless input.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • dx2718

      Actually, you've got it backwards. The reality is that restricting access to safe, legal abortions is killing human life. Mothers' lives. Childrens' lives (the existing and future children of pregnant women denied abortions). Pregnancy is a huge medical risk women take in order to bring children into this world, but not every pregnancy is healthy enough to produce a child, nor is every pregnant mother equipped to handle the pregnancy and/or the results thereof. One more child could mean one or two of her existing children starve to death while she attempts to feed the youngest. A special needs child could mean no money for educating existing children. An unhealthy pregnancy could mean destroying her uterus so she can't have any more children. To me, "choose life" IS pro-choice, because the statistics say anti-abortion = more death. Mothers seeking abortions will get them regardless of the laws, but where the abortions are legal, they are safe and more likely to result in living women, existing, and future children.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • sam stone

      it's not murder according to the law of the land, pops

      December 11, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  15. lesane crooks

    we all have our opinions, why limit them to just one?

    December 11, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • pop

      when is the death of a young one an oppinion???

      it's heinous... have you seen an aborted baby?, I suggest you do one day, you will not sleep right for many weeks after.... it's heinous.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Observer

      Pop,

      Ever see pictures of an unwanted child that has been tortured and murdered?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • pop

      observer, yes,
      i've seen aborted babies my friend, aborted because they were unwanted...
      before this I was of a different oppinion as well... it was very eye opening

      same as when I became vegetarian after visiting a slaughter house... when you see the reality of the situation you have a change of heart... believe me...

      December 11, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • Groucho Marx

      Those are my convictions, and if you don't like them, I have others.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • Where are we going?

      @observer

      Ever heard of adoption? No I guess you havent

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • pop

      Observer..
      if you have seen in person an aborted baby...

      and a visit to a slaughter house.....

      then come back and talk to me... until then alls you are doing is sticking up for stickers and words that you have no real understanding of.

      it's a lot heavier then you might think.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • mama k

      Many miscarriages can be pretty heinous too. Stop with the drama.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Observer

      Where,

      There are 10's of thousands of kids up for adoption today. How many will you take?

      If we forced another million UNWANTED kids into society each year, we will have major problems socially and economically.

      No one likes abortion, but each mother's situation is different. Let them decide.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • redzoa

      http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/14/world/europe/ireland-abortion-controversy/index.html

      December 11, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  16. The Amazing Insights of Larry Flurtman, Christian

    God damn atheists! I bet they ban my "God Told Me To Stone My Mouthy Teenager To Death, And I DID!" Deutronomy license plates.

    What is the world coming to?

    December 11, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • mama k

      LOL. Well the company that makes those plates evidently also sells "Army of God" neckties.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  17. jasonn13

    Don't the people of NC have a choice whether or not to put one of those plates on their vehicles?

    December 11, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • Dover

      Not any more.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • MOCaseA

      Yes, just like they have a choice as to whether or not the church sign says "Obey God, not Man" or they have a choice as to what exactly the Sunday School class they won't be attending will be about how they are living in sin, or hey have a choice about the next mega-church being built in their back yard, or they have any other choice than to let the churches cram their filth down everyone's throats through political action and oppression of free speech.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:42 am |
  18. Rickey H

    Way to go, Judge. That sort of thing has no place on a license plate in any case. Just get a bumper sticker.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  19. Shak

    Ah NC the proud home of Jesse Helms...need I say more.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • Josh

      Also the first in flight. You're welcome.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Badda Bing

      The Wright Brothers weren't from NC; the brains came from somewhere else. And they had the good sense to go back when they were done.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  20. Where are we going?

    Pro abortion? It's too bad your parents didn't follow through with that.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Observer

      Where,

      It's possible that you are alive ONLY because of planned parenthood in your family's past.

      Get real.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • pop

      Obviously don't have young ones of your own Observer???,

      December 11, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Observer

      Pop.

      I am PRO-CHOICE. I would have a tough time if someone in my family needed an abortion, but I don't have the right to judge someone else's situations and make a ruling for them. NEITHER DO YOU.

      YOU are "pro-abortion" if things get bad enough so get real.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:34 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.