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.
I'm glad these are being discontinued, but I don't think that "not offering a pro-choice alternative" should be the reason for it. Regardless of my personal views on the matter, I would prefer not to see my home state sponsoring either view and flaunting it on license plates. They should both be prohibited.
Absoultely agreed. This is an issue that's way too complicated for a "yea or nay" situation. If someone in any state would like to express their view on an automobile, they can buy a sticker and put it on the rear window.
That's called "Separation of Church and State" or as I like to call it, "COMMON SENSE!"
I live in Massachusetts, we have a "Save the Whales" plate, I guess this means we will now have to have
a "Kill the Whales" plate to make everyone happy.
If you don't understand why your analogy is absurd, there is no hope for you.
Ridiculous. You didn't think it through at all. Try a lot harder next time.
Apple Bush ........ If you don't understand why your response is just plain stupid, then you are the arrogant ass we suspect you to be.
milo, thank you for putting me in my place.
Isn't the issue here the legislature's express refusal to offer pro-choice plates? If someone had pet-itioned for "kill the whales" plates, and the legislature expressly rejected the option solely on the grounds of viewpoint, then the analogy would be more fitting. If the legislature had ok'd pro-choice plates, but they were eventually dropped due to lack of demand, this too would have been a very different case...
I fail to understand how Whales have anything to do with our civil rights.
@ Aple .. because in Star Trek IV, it was shown that whales are setient beings in contact with alien probes, and those probes almost destroyed our world ... it's a prophecy!!! Get ready, here come the whales' friends in 260 years to kill us all!!!! Wouldn't that be a civil rights violation? lol
Mirosal, lol !
@ Apple ... people seem to forget, or just do not know, that Gene Roddenberry was an Athiest. Even in Star Trek II a line by McCoy was "According to MYTH, the Earth was created in six days. Now watch out, here comes Genesis.. we'll do it for you in six minutes!!" Hopefully that prophecy will come true, and by then the bible will be treated as it deserves to be treated, as a book of myths.
@AB – Your question actually clarifies the issue. It's a speech issue, not an abortion issue. In other words, it's not the topic that matters ("kill/save whales" or "pro-life/pro-choice"), it's simply that the government has provided a forum (custom license plates) and so it can't then exclude access to the forum based on the content of someone's speech.
The government can restrict the time, place and manner of speech (fire in a crowded theater) and it can regulate access to government owned/created forums in a content-neutral manner (preventing homeless advocates from camping on Fed property in protest; not because of what they say, but because of a legitimate interest in protecting the property), but the government can't single out one viewpoint for exclusion based on the content of that viewpoint.
Your civil right here is equal access to a government-sponsored forum where the government can't exclude your access solely on the basis of what you would say.
A classic example is the Westboro Baptist Church who protest military funerals. Laws attempting to restrict their protests have been (rightly) found unconst-itutional because they were specifically targeting this (abhorrent) group's message. That these laws would have allowed others to stand in the same place and affirm their support for fallen soldiers is how courts distinguish between content-based and content-neutral restrictions, where the former are subject to strict judicial scrutiny and can only stand if there is a truly "compelling governmental interest" in the restriction and the restriction is "narrowly-tailored" to this interest.
Apologies as I'm sure that's much more than you wanted...
screw the pro-birthers... they are not pro-life,... they are pro-birth... then they want to take away any assistance to that child to help them develop.. they only start caring again when they are 18 and can make them into a dead soldier.
Good, now maybe they'll get rid of those stupid plates down here (in Florida) too...
Live your life, not your neighbors! Stop trying to push your beliefs on others! Aclu = losers, religious freaks = brainwashed. Let everyone decide how to live their own lives. Enough already!
Amen to that
GOOD DECISION WORTHY OF PRAISE.
This is idiotic. So every "politically contentious" issue has to have a counterpoint if the democratically elected government is the one expressing the message? Well then I suppose that the whitehouse.gov website needs to post the Republican counterpoint to the Democratic tax and health care plans. People have lost their damn minds.
Websites aren't license plates, and the alternative to those plans is readily available on the same place: the internet.
You're comparing Granny Smith apples and Floridaking oranges, friendo.
@blacklute That's oversimplifying the issue. The basis of the argument is that there is no alternative viewpoint that can be expressed in the common medium, therefore the government is de facto limiting the speech of those of an alternative opinion. The exaggerated effect of this happening unchecked would be states with legislative agendas forcing their opinions everywhere. Can you imagine if every time you saw a police car it was painted with a picture of jesus on it? Again, exaggerated, but no more so that the oversimplification you presented.
@blackluke You're comparing apples and oranges. This is about there not being a counter viewpoint to choose as a license plate, which expresses an opinion when there is only one option. It's SIMPLE. Don't try to over-complicate it with something completely unrelated.
Did you just call him "friendo"? I'm pretty sure that's grounds for an ass-kicking in some parts of the country.
"Pregnancy crisis centers" in red states are often centers that coerce women and girls into continuing unwanted pregnancies, feeding them barefaced lies about abortion if threats of God's revenge don't work. I feel terrible for the women who are subjected to that kind of psychological abuse.
WHOA, GREATEST IDEA EVER!!
libtards and republicants listen up.
since license plate fees go to the government, i have a solution that will make you both happy! libtards, you can have all the money you want for bloated social programs, and republicants, your rich uncles will be off the hook for the taxes to pay for it so they can buy that second yacht they've been wanting! All we have to do is sell license plates explaining how much you hate the other party, get your bases emotionally charged enough and encourage them to buy them! PROBLEM SOLVED!!
you sure told them, stick it to the big two parties, what do they know?!?
Time to go live off the grid and watch the structure collapse from afar
pfft, what are you, crazy? back to playing XCOM, more like.
Face it, they have won. The anti democratic socialist leftists have out organized the rest and have inserted themselves into the structures of power. It is over. Goodbye America – you were loved.
Hello America, you are back.
trololololol, no one talks like this
Goodbye America? Wow... so if you don't get your way do you normally whine? If so, please feel free to leave...
wow......"anti democratic socialist leftists".......pretty insightful there, jackson
Sadly, this is how people talk. Just the ignorant neanderthals of the new Republican Party. Check out The Daily Caller or the Facebook page for Glenn Beck for some real laughs!!!
When we at 90% tax rate for the rich like in the 1950s and 60s when we landed a man on the moon, invented nuclear energy, and anti-biotics, the polioi vaccine, and the advanced high yield agriculture, and the fundamental technology of the internet (hypertext concept, packet switching, ARPANET) .. was that socialism? NO.
Socialism is when government owns enterprises and industrial corporations. And no, the auto-bailout was not socialism because management was not in government hands. Furthermore it was a loan. The government would need to have a majority stake in it. Btw when there were auto bailouts in the 70s you guys didnt raise an issue.
Using BIG words doesn't make your ignorant opinion any wiser.
"There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side. It's that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Mother Night
Good grief, yet another issue that isn't really that important. Although, I tend to agree that both sides of the issue (pro-life and pro-choice) should be options....
On the contrary. This is another example of the evangelical right wingers sneaking their agenda into government policy. Unacceptable. We must be vigilant.
The judge is wrong. One could simply purchase a license plate frame for less money than the custom state plates. He also fails to recognize that by limiting the amount of specialized plate designs the state issues is discriminating against 95% of the population at all times, not to mention the cost related to purchasing them.
Matt, I read your post twice. It makes absolutely no sense.
By your logic, Wal-Mart refusing to carry a particular flavor of Ben and Jerry's ice cream is discrimination.
But what do I know, you're the legal expert here.
Difference in your statement being that someone purchasing a custom frame isn't getting what is written on it sanctioned by the state like he/she would with a license plate.
The rest didn't make sense so I'll just assume you've been drinking heavily.
@Rey – "The fundamental question is this: Is a fetus alive?
If so, then abortion is ethically and morally the worst legally sanctioned crime since slavery."
Of course a fetus is alive and of course it's "human." But the inquiry doesn't stop there, because even if we grant "full personhood" rights to a fetus, there are still two persons involved. There is no legal or moral obligation to use one's body to directly sustain the life of another just as there is no legal or moral obligation to donate organs, tissue, etc., to sustain the life of another.
One should remember that to grant the government the power to force pregnancy is to grant the government an extreme right over personal reproductive autonomy. This is a short step from granting the power to prohibit pregnancy. If this sounds ridiculous, then you should read up on our Nation's historical eugenics campaigns.
Oops. Wrong spot...
While I agree in principal, the fact is that the aborted fetus could be the person to discover a cure for a disease. Furthermore, technology has advanced to the point where many of the babies who are aborted could survive outside the mother.
Further, one might add that in order to have the rights and protections of the laws of the land, you have to be a citizen. And to be a citizen, you have to be *born* in the US. Fetuses, regardless of their stage of development, have no legal protection or rights in the USA. Period. And you cannot in anyway argue that the rights of the mother – life, liberty, poh – are somehow less important than the "rights" of the fetus, because it hasn't any.
"Ofr course the fetus is alive and of course it is human"
Not so 'of course.
Is the fetus alive? Yes, obviously, but is it a life? Not until viability is acghieved according to strick and universal medical and biological criteria. being 'alive' is meaningless, a spleen is alive. But it is not a life form.
Is it 'human'? The term is meaningless. Is it a human being? No, as it is not a being. Is it human dna? yes, but so what? At best you could state that it is a potential human, and the law doesnt deal in potentials.
@Matt You are correct, but technology isn't a reason to obstruct the rights of the mother. I'm not necessarily pro-abortion – I don't really think many people are literally pro-abortion – but to impose that upon another human being is ludicrous.
Matt, your comment is pointless. yes it could be a person who cures a disease. it could also be a genocidal serial killer. So what? It could also be one of the 55% of pregnancies that miscarry naturally.
And no, actually, technology has NOT advanced to the stage where an aborted fetus could survive, assuming the fetus is aborted before viability (23 to 24 weeks). Thats the whol point of the term 'viability'.
@Gaunt – I do hope you understand that these were concessions for the sake of the argument, that is, yes an embryo/fetus is technically "alive" and yes, it is technically "human" by any genetic or taxonomic view. Nonetheless, I agree with your points expanding on my concessions.
I would offer, however, that under federal law (Unborn Victims of Violence Act) and that of many states, killing a viable fetus is a criminal offense that has been successfully prosecuted. The law does deal with these "potentials" but I believe we should be wary of any attempt to undermine the core provisions of Roe, that is, a woman's right of bodily autonomy extending to the abortion of a non-viable embryo/fetus.
Redzoa, I am copying your answer. I am going to quote you in the future when somebody in another argument brings us to the point where this basic, logical, just and knowledgeable response is needed. Thank you.
(and I'm aware of the further discussion regarding "alive" and "human.' While interesting points, I understood what you meant in your original post.
libtards are going to tear down everything in America
So you are using the condition of Palin's son as a slur.
Well done. Keep the Republican HYPOCRISY going.
You mean like how Liberals tore down slavery?
Like how liberals tore down segregation and jim crow laws?
Like how Liberals tore down laws prohibiting women to vote?
Like how Liberals tore down child labor?
Like how liberals tore down laws prohibiting blacks from the military?
Conservatives have been flat out WRONG on pretty much every single social and cultural issue in US history. Why on earth do you imagine anyone should give a crap what you think now?
Those were the good ole days, Gaunt.
for what, following the constiution?
Why would anyone NOT want to choose LIFE???
because some women dont like being treated like incubators under the law, and would like their OWN rights preserved.
yet I bet you support the death penalty – ironically enough.
Maybe go rethink your question?
There are multiple things wrong with this ruling:
1. Abortion vs. anti-abortion has nothing to do with religion. It's like saying pro-car theif vs. anti-car theif is a religious issue. If the license plate said "do not steal" is that a religious statement? It has nothbing to do with God, you can believe in God and still be pro-abortion. You can be an atheist and be anti-abortion.
2. The statement is not an endorsement by the state of a particular ideology. In fact it could be an anti-suicide message. Or are atheists automatically supposed to be pro-suicide?
@johan The legislators are on record saying they denied a pro-choice license plate because god doesn't support murderers. Google it.
Actually, I DON'T believe in the death penalty!
God's plan" is the way that Christians traditionally explain things like miscarriages, amputations, cancer, hurricanes and car accidents.
For example, if a Christian dies a painful and tragic death because of cancer, she dies as part of God's plan. Her death has a purpose. God called her home for a reason. Even if something bad happens to a Christian, it is actually good because it is part of God's plan.
You can see how pervasive "God's plan" is by looking in Christian inspirational literature. For example;
Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]
There is also this:
Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you.
Under this view of the universe, God plans everything.
Take a moment and think about this, "He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death." Let's examine one simple implication of this statement. What this means is that God has pre-planned every abortion that has taken place on our planet.
If the concept of "God's plan" is true, you can first of all see that God wants us to be aborting children. Every single abortion is planned by God, so God must be doing it for a reason. Second, you can see that both the mother who requests the abortion and the doctor who performs it are blameless. Since it is God who planned the abortion of the child (God chose the "exact time" of the death, the mother and doctor are simply puppets who are fulfilling God's plan, are they not? What about all the Christians who are fighting against abortion? If abortion is part of God's plan, why are they fighting it? God is the all-powerful ruler of the universe, and his plan is for more than a million children a year to die in the United States through abortion.
If God's plan is true, then each one of those abortions was meticulously planned by God.
If God does not intend for us to perform abortions, is it then wrong that God has a plan? If God has a plan, is he not the direct cause of every abortion? Simply think it through, and you will begin to see the problems in this proposition.
Think about Adolph Hitler. He was evil incarnate, and Hitler is well known for the atrocious things he did. What I would like you to do right now is to consider this statement: "Hitler is part of God's Plan." Think about this:
He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]
God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.
If God has a divine plan for each of us, then he had a divine plan for Hitler too. It is when you stop to think about it deeply that the contradictions hit you.
Now let's imagine that you say a prayer in this sort of universe. What difference does it make? God has his plan, and that plan is running down its track like a freight train. If God has a plan, then everyone who died in the Holocaust died for a reason. They had to die, and each death had meaning. Therefore, Holocaust victims could pray all day, and they would still die. The idea of a "plan" makes the idea of a "prayer-answering relationship with God" a contradiction, doesn't it? Yet Christians seem to attach themselves to both ideas, despite the irresolvable problem the two ideas create.
Think about what God's plan means for you personally. If the plan happens to say that you will get hit by a bus tomorrow, or that terrorists will blow you up, or that you will be shot in the head four times, then that's what will happen. It would be the same with any disease. If you contract cancer this afternoon and die three months later, that is God's plan for you. Praying to cure the cancer is a waste. God plans for you to die, so you will die. He has pre-programmed the exact time of your death. There is nothing you can do to change the plan - no amount of prayer will help - because your death will have meaning and your death will cause side-effects that are also part of the plan.
Who will you marry? You actually have no choice in the matter. God has pre-planned your wedding in minute detail. "God knew that those two individuals [your parents] possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom 'you' that he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you." Therefore, your spouse was pre-chosen by God for you so that you would create the children who are a part of his plan. You also have no choice in the number of children you will have - God has pre-planned their births.
In addition, this sort of universe means that Hitler is blameless. Hitler was not "evil," because Hitler had no free will at all. Hitler was simply an actor forced to play his role in God's plan. God planned for millions of people to die in the Holocaust - he planned their deaths in exact detail. Hitler had to kill those people. Hitler was God's puppet in making that those millions of deaths happen right on schedule.
In the same way then, every murderer is blameless. Since God has planned each of our deaths in exact detail, murderers are actually essential to God's plan. Why do we punish them? We should be rewarding them for doing their God-planned duty. What if you get raped tomorrow and get pregnant? God did that because he planned the exact time of that child's birth and death. God actually pre-planned your rape, and the rapist was God's puppet. Rather than hating the rapist, we should celebrate God's plan.
Do you believe that murderers and rapists should be rewarded? Do you believe that Hitler was sent by God to kill millions of people in the Holocaust? Do you believe that God is the direct cause of every abortion on this planet? Do you believe that you have no choice in your spouse or the number of children you have? Probably not. But that is what you are saying when you state that Hitler or cancer or anything else is part of "God's plan."
If you think about it as an intelligent person, you will realize that the statement "It is part of God's plan" is one of those meaningless palliatives. When you sit down and think it through using your common sense, the statement makes no sense.
nice book dude
dude no one is going to read an essay on the CNN comments section.
Most of your rant makes no sense. Your logic came from a box of front loops
What doesn't make sense exactly? Besides, "reason" said no one would read it!
It seems to me the State should have known this would be the argument...and the final decision.
I agree – likely just to get the votes of the conservative base.
The world is already overcrowded. We are like a horde of locusts devouring fields and thinking it will never end, when in fact most of the fields are already eaten.
You would think God would say "Okay, go forth and DON'T procreate now, because you are setting the Earth up for severe shortages, and all the social turmoil that goes with them." But no, every sperm is still sacred.
What a stupid way to say no. They have breast cancer awareness ones, Does that mean they have to make license plates in favor of people getting cancer? What a stupid judge.
That's a ridiculous comparison.
dude....that comparison would make sense if there are people out there WHO WANTS TO GET CANCER.
your analogy is horrible
If they offered awards for the stupidest post on CNN, I would submit yours for contention Joe.
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.