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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. conservative to the core

    How about keeping the legs closed and the zippers zipped?

    December 11, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Used to live in the South

      That might be a little difficult in the N.C. trailer parks. They can't afford clothes, but they can all afford NASCAR hats and velvet Elvis paintings lol

      December 11, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • Ryan M.

      Impossible! Do you think people have self-control? Undoubtedly not!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • Martin Not Luther

      Yea, pass that law. That will work.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • Dlc

      I hate that you feel that way about the South and our views. I am from the South and I am in the top 2% of wage earners in the US. I also have a college education.

      What we dont have are ghettos and people who are rude to you just because they can be. I have also been to visits in the North and Midwest and guess what I saw? Trailer parks. Your comment assumes that all people who live in trailer parks are beneath us. I guess I could say the same about people who can't afford large houses.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • Used to live in the South

      ohhh a college education ... funny how you didn't say college degree ... guess you're the AS'SISTANT manager of McD's aren't you?

      December 11, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • sam stone

      Dlc: The south doesn't have rude people?

      December 11, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Dale

      There's an idea. Let's go ask the Palins how well abstinence works.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • Me

      Because clearly, that's not happening. Duh.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Dlc

      Sam Stone -you are correct that there are rude people everywhere. "used to live in the South" is a prime example. On my visits to New York City I noted that everyone was quite nice. I have noticed in other states people have a preconceived idea about Southerners. I am a Southerner with a higher education then most people in the US. Does that make me better then someone working at McDonalds trying to feed their kids and make a better life for them? Definitely not. Also, CPA is an acronym for Certified Public Accountant. This blog was originally about thoughts on abortion which I do not support unless the mothers life is at risk. God is the only one able to judge any of us on the choices we make. Thank you Sam Stone for making me think in broader terms. You sound like a nice person.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Dlc

      I have one last thing I want to write to "used to live in the South". I want to say to you, "bless your heart".

      December 11, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  2. XxMacleodxX

    Perfect design = pregnant woman throwing herself down the stairs.....says Choose Life over it

    December 11, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Tom

      You paint a sick and twisted vision. Society would have been well served if your mother had been pro choice.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • sam stone

      Tom: What makes you think XxMacleodxX's mother wasn't pro choice?

      December 11, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Me

      Tom:
      Again, and slowly, so everyone can understand: pro-choice does NOT mean pro-abortion. It means just what it says - pro-CHOICE.
      And by the way - your lovely comment regarding about "society would have been well served" only goes to prove that YOU contribute to what you call a "sick and twisted vision," pal.
      Step away from the keyboard.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      This other Tom is a twit. You assume that when someone is pro-choice, she will of course abort any fetus. What special kind of stupid are you? My mother was pro-choice. My mother-in-law is pro-choice. I'm pro-choice. NOT ONE OF US has ever had or sought to end a pregnancy, you idiot. We all simply believe that NO ONE, certainly not you, is qualified to decide what is best for a woman but the woman herself.

      You are so stupid you can't even run your own life; quite trying to run someone else's.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  3. Justin

    Thousands of people out of work and the only thing there worried about is what a license says.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:39 am |
    • Gaunt

      Yes, this is the ONLY think they are worried about. there are NO other news stories at ALL on CNN today, and this is the ONLY thing they are worried about.

      Silly troll.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • End Religion

      Is ye of many names (because he's embarrassed to use the same one) still upset at losing the election? Man, what sore losers!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  4. bmonteith

    I guess I'm supposed to sign up for every liberal cause since I'm gay, but I also have a pretty much nonexistent chance of inadvertent procreation, so maybe I don't have a dog in this fight. But I think I can still go with "Choose .. to mind your own darned business".

    December 11, 2012 at 5:38 am |
    • bmonteith

      Pretty sure my preferred verbiage would have ben censored.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  5. Rock5986

    @Gaunt, Why would a bacteria be considered life on Mars........And a heartbeat NOT considered life on Earth............

    December 11, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Brain7342

      Sweet. We should start a club called "We are named after what's inside our head plus 4 extra numbers". It will be the best club ever!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Gaunt

      Absurd and silly question.

      A zygote is ALIVE of course, but it is not a life form, as I have explained to you in great detail, and you have completely ignored.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  6. Sam

    In many states you can get plates that say "Support our troops". Shouldn't these also be banned until we get plates that say "To hell with the troops"?

    December 11, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Woodrow

      No it should read: To hell with the idiotic government who is sending our troops.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • End Religion

      Sam, if you were a patriot you might understand religion must be kept separate from government. "Support our troops" has nothing to do with religion.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:50 am |
  7. Priest

    Abortion is murder, plain and simple.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • Woodrow

      I disagree.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Bandit

      So is eating a hamburger. The only difference between the two cases being that the cow was conscious at some point before its death.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:38 am |
    • Gaunt

      Sad. Quite the opposite is true. Since murder is a legal term, and abortion is legal, you fail.

      Even if we remove murder from its legal definition and take it as a description, nobody is being killed, so nothing is being murdered. You fail.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • sam stone

      Not according to the law of the land, Priest.

      Now leave the alterboys alone

      December 11, 2012 at 6:39 am |
  8. Chris c.

    I don't understand how a license plate became a place for free speech. If you want to express your opinion you should put it on a bumper sticker or spray paint your car or hang a flag. The fact that you can't and shouldn't have the option to put a political issue on a state issued plate is beyond comprehension. The fact is that money would have been donated from the plates to fight women's rights.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • End Religion

      It matters not the tiniest amount what "money from the plates would have been donated" to. You do not seem to have a basic understanding of the issue at hand. Read the article again.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  9. Jerry

    Absolutely the right decision by the court. It's rare, in this day and age, to actually see a judge do his job of enforcing the law instead of trying to make new law.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:31 am |
  10. catlover7731

    I live in NC and am so happy that this was brought down. If there isn't a Pro-Choice plate offered then their shouldn't be a pro-life one offered at all. Free speech isn't just about one side getting to speak it is about both sides getting their message across. It would be nice if more people where able to think here, but for some reason many people here are still living like it was the 50's, they are bigoted, religious and afraid of change. NC has beautiful scenery, but some of the people here leave you wondering what went wrong.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  11. Rick1948

    GOOD – I live in North Carolina and the state has been going downhill since the Republicans got in control of the House and Senate.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Rob

      Down hill? I guess if you thinking stopping the murder of unborn babies as going downhill. Wonderful thing about Libs, they can make and excuse for anything, even murder

      December 11, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • End Religion

      Rob:
      1) saying it is murder over and over doesn't make it so until it is law. It is not law. If you don't like it, change the law.
      2) I assume you are against capital punishment of criminals and also do not want our military killing anyone either. Murder is murder, right, with no extenuating circumstances?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:55 am |
  12. blue max

    all they have to do is pass a pro choice license plate bill. case solved..move on

    December 11, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • Notsosimple

      You want to pass a bill like that in all 29 states? Wouldn't it make better sense for the government not to sanction license plates for ANY controversial hot-button issue? This could have easily been the other way around for a viewpoint that the far right DOESN'T like. Better for license plates to be neutral.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:29 am |
  13. tmc

    people would prefer you don't drive to states with the contrarian viewpoints... you might get your car and/or plate defaced..

    December 11, 2012 at 5:24 am |
  14. Sagittariuslady

    That is correct. Abortion is for God to judge....not me, Congress, etc. It is a personal decision between a woman, her conscience, and her God.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Mirosal

      Fine .. all that's needed now is for you to show us your "god". We've been waiting for a LONG time, are you the one to show us? C'mon.. I triple-dog dare you to show us your "god".

      December 11, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • SCable

      Sag-lady: Murdering your kids should be your own choice, not Congress, but your own conscience. If you want your kid dead that should be up to you. OUCH!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • End Religion

      SCable, check the law: abortion is not murder. You seem confused. If you don't like the law, change it.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:57 am |
    • SCable

      ER – no question the law will change, just not the way either you or I would like it to change. When murder is called "legal" and re-defined to be called "abortion" it won't be too long before killing certain children and adults will be redefined as well and called "mercy".

      December 11, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • End Religion

      @SC: ah, the old "abortion leads to fascism" argument. Wait... I haven't heard this before. Can you explain how abortion leads to fascism. Maybe I'm not understanding your argument. Or are the just reflexive talking points brought up by Limbaugh or your pastor?

      December 11, 2012 at 6:21 am |
  15. Alan Sikes

    Native NC born here–I Support the Federal Right to Privacy as Mandated by the Supreme Court. . .

    And that goes for ROE vs. WADE. . . Women have a Right to Control their Bodies. . . End of Discussion. . .

    December 11, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • AuntySocial

      This Native-born NC agrees.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Dee G.

      Thank-you.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • Rob

      What about the babies' rights? I guess that doesn't mnatter as long as the murderer gets theirnway

      December 11, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • steve

      Does a woman have the right to put illegal drugs in that body? Does a woman have the right to sell her body, if she chooses?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:45 am |
    • Gaunt

      Rob, you can keep misusing english all you like in a vain attempt to give your illogical, unscientific, minority view some credibility, it wont work. There is no child. There is no life form pre-viabbility. You fail.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • sam stone

      steve: if she is of legal age, yes

      December 11, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  16. Thomas M

    This is not "a great victory for the free speech rights", Mr. Brook. People have been prohibited from expressing their opinion on a major issue. Instead of suing for an equal Pro-choice plate, the ACLU sued for the silence of one set of views. How can you prohibit expressing opinions and call that freedom of speech?

    December 11, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Chris c.

      It isn't freedom of speech. No one is prohibiting them from putting it on a bumber sticker. It is a state issued license plate. Keep your opinion like your laws, Off the government and out of legislation. It has no place on a license plate.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:26 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      Really? How are you (or anyone) being kept from expressing your point of view?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Thomas M

      In that case, all state-issued plates should have absolutely no affiliation with any special interest group. This is not the case.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Mark

      Once again I'm somewhat amused (not really) at the inability of Americans to distinguish between free speech as individuals and govt support of speech one way or another. You would be coming unhinged if the state (govt) offered a plate that said "CHOOSE THE PROPHET MOHAMED 1234" and not one that said "JESUS ROCKS 1234". Oh, by the way, the proceeds from that plate are going to build a Madrassa in your neighborhood. You see its the Govt's job to keep our opinions to ourselves. You gripe about the very same govt that upholds roe v wade yet defend it for support of one side of the arguement. I call that having your cake...............

      December 11, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  17. mike

    Choose life +Adopt = actions speak louder that words?

    December 11, 2012 at 5:14 am |
  18. GT58

    Well, I guess they need to get rid of those that support the Humane Society unless they offer a Cruelty To Animal one.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      Apparently someone didn't read the article.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:32 am |
    • End Religion

      You'd think after all this time I'd stop being surprised at how stupid religious people are. You guys keep surprising me! :)

      December 11, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • Mark

      While we're at it can we get rid of those obnoxious personal license plates too. That's right, I'm talking to you "STUD1" and "FXYLDY". The DMV needs to stick with the basics and that's it. If you want to promote an issue go down to the local flea mkt and have one air brushed and put it on your FRONT BUMPER!

      December 11, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  19. Humberto

    That's one way they launder money from citizens collected by government.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:12 am |
  20. P

    @Gaunt, don't you have a protest at the Michigan state house to get to?

    December 11, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Gaunt

      Must be annoying when you get outsmarted by your betters. One would imagine you would be used to it my now.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:16 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.