'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. How about?

    ACLU has a problem with Life?

    December 11, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Chris

      What has the world come to? People have problem with human life and they think that is 'their' liberty

      December 11, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Gaunt

      Nobody has a 'problem with life'. And since before viability, there is no life form present, thats quite irrelevant.

      What people DO have a problem with is zealots trying to force their illogical, anti-scientific opinions over the rights of actual, living women.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • sam stone

      ACLU has no problem with life, bubba. The legislators voted down a pro-choice plate

      December 11, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    North Carolina's clocks run backwards.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • mpouxesas

      you think? there are people there who are still fighting the civil war....

      December 11, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • brewgeek

      I'd rather be in NC thatn the 'enlightened' states like NY or CA where they have the highest taxes and get nothing for it because everyone is lining their own pockets. NC is a wonderful place to live coparitively as far as standard of living as well.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  3. No one

    Is it just me, or is that color scheme making my eyes bleed?

    December 11, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      It's not just you.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  4. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog: see p. 8 for added details-

    The license plates in all states should read:


    Added details:

    The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
    – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
    Followed by:
    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    December 11, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Gaunt

      Your failure rates for Condoms and the Pill are not 'perfect use', as your other stats are. Perfect use, the BCP is one of the most reliable methods of buirth control around.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • ironman59

      The problem is that your slant (with religious/moral overtones) isn't accurate. The rates in general are off & each has issues. However according to the thousands of forms of religion even abstinence doesn't work. If it did, christianity wouldn't exist so take your soap box to a place where people want to listen to your nonsense.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Reality

      The presented statistics for failure rates, actual and perfect use were taken from the studies of the Guttmacher Insti-tute. I suggest you contact them if you disagree.

      And as noted: "from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-" and who along with his wife has successfully used abstinence, masturbation, IUDs, Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation), Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal)) and
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) as birth control methods.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Reality


      I suggest you read again the statistics for perfect use. You missed:

      "The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)

      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)"


      December 11, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  5. nonPCrealist

    "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.

    I'm pro-choice, but getting a vanity plate pulled 'a great victory'? Mountains out of molehills perhaps here? How is squelching an opposing view a victory for free speech?

    If pro-choice people feel their point of view isn't being represented there why don't they just do the work to get their own vanity plate designed, gather enough signatures to get it approved and have it added to the hundreds of other of vanity plates on the NC DMV books?

    December 11, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  6. Frank

    Thats fair enough. Put "Support Unborn Child Murder" on the other license plates. PROBLEM SOLVED!

    December 11, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • sam stone

      The legislators voted down a pro-choice plate, Frank. Learn to fvcking read

      December 11, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  7. ToiletNinja

    Great! Now if only they'd do the same in my state.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  8. Bob

    I don't really agree with the judge's reasoning.
    Autism and other "differently abled" plates. Where's my Eugenics license plate?
    I have a wildlife conservation plate. Where's the anti-hippy plate?
    D.A.R.E plates. Where's the pro-legalization plate?

    December 11, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  9. pmmarion

    "..said he would push for an appeal of the judge's decision.."

    So instead of doing the sensible thing and sponsoring an alternative bill to make an opposing veiw plate available, he would rather litigate and waste more of the taxpayers money... Typical..

    December 11, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  10. T.Storm

    Why not let the Pro-Choice side create their own plates? I'm sure pictures of burned, cut up fetuses would be largely appealing, but realistic to their cause.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Damocles

      Guess you had your eyes closed during the part of the story that said what the pro-chice plates would say.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • sam stone

      the legislators voted down the idea for a pro-choice plate.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • DougW

      Good idea! Then when women go to get thise plates their husbands can beat them and kick their a$$es back to teh bedroom, teh way the bible says it's supposed to be. Man, if they would only let us get slavery back things would REALLY be like the good old days! Yee-haw!

      December 11, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Joe

      I can't decide between the scaped fetus and the incubator mother.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • juno

      And of course the "pro-life" side will have a plate showing the fatal results of a botched illegal abortion, or the funeral of a woman who's life was lost because an abortion was denied that would have saved it. This isn't a game you want to play.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  11. kdeutschler

    let's fund birth control for all those deadbeats that don't have the common sense or the funds to raise a child. Until the GOP comes up with a plan to raise all these unwanted kids to adulthood (and probably beyond), the pro choice stance is the only one that contains future welfare spending.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  12. ray


    December 11, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Damocles

      No you don't because you just voiced your opinion that everyone should keep their opinions to themselves.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  13. George Marshall

    This would not have become a problem, wold never have ended up in the courts if the Carolina legislature had made a provision for a plate logo that said "Choose Choice" or something similar instead of disallowing it. I can't imagine that the court's ruling will be overturned.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  14. Chris Streeter

    Well, just go ahead and make a "Choose Death" plate available.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • DougW

      How about one that says "Christianity! Over 975 million killed in the name of Jesus! Send more money now!"

      December 11, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Joe

      'Save the environment. Choose Death." or "Be less sanctimonious. Choose death." or "Low crime rates. You're welcome, because I chose death." or "It's going to happen anyway. Why procrastinate? Choose death."

      December 11, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  15. Name*Chedar

    I bet the Repubs have aomething to do with this.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:45 am |
  16. How about?

    'Choose Death' license plates, more apt!

    December 11, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  17. nc_mike

    Interesting that all that has to be done is permit the Pro Choice option, but the Pro Lifers say no to that- why? Solution, use stickers – its a free country and you can use any sticker you want.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  18. Aaron

    I'm not opposed to it on the basis of its message, I'm opposed to it based on the fact that it looks like a 6 year old's first foray into Microsoft Paint.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Joe

      Hahahahahahaha. Don't you ever watch Christian T.V.?

      So boring.

      Something about being dogmatic makes you not very creative.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  19. OhioPatti

    Religious beliefs are illegal on license plates which are regulated by government and laws. Maintain "SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE" and cover your car with stickers if you feel so compelled.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • fiftyfive55

      defense of unborn babies is human not religious

      December 11, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Unborn babies? Surely my balls are also full of unborn babies. Am I committing genocide every time I jack it?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Bob

      Pro-life is political, not religious. I'm Agnostic and I'm pro-life.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Damocles

      Wow... yeah, if genocide is killing 1% of the population, what in the hell would be the term for murder by mastur-bation?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Rational Libertarian
      Of course beating off is murder.
      You see, once upon a time there was a man named Onan who received orders from God to impregnate his sister-in-law.
      They got down with their bad selves on several occassions, but Onan kept puling out at the critical moment, spilling his precious, precious seed on the ground.
      And that's why God killed him and why pole polishing is murder.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • sam stone

      how about license plates be free of all political messages?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      Rational Libertarian.............No one cares.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Joe

      I might care. Depends.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  20. PaPilot

    A sensible alternative is to allow people to apply a custom message to their license plates. Since modern license plates are basically just printed in a printer, it should be easy enough to implement. Just create a space that can accommodate a short message and let people say whatever they want.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      A source of extra revenue for the state.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Elvis

      Nice idea but i can only imagine the abuses it would invite...when it comes to being obscene, offensive and hateful, people can be really creative..

      December 11, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • HarryHoudini

      Why does this need to be so complicated? Plenty of bumper stickers are available to spout just about any message. License plate space should just have just identifying numbers and letters.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:10 am |
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