'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. tiredofchristinasjewsansmuslims

    This is an individual opinion and does need to be relfected in the public. Honestly, why are we arguing about license plates. Thats the least effective way of influencing anyone. Individual opinions don't.have the right to invade society.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • daytonaguy

      If you're close enough to read it, your probably too close anyway. Really? This chaps your butt? You seem pretty sensitive to be in the "This Bugs Me" crowd arntcha? Merry Christmas hater.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  2. Issa2011

    Message aside, aesthetically this is one of the crappiest LPs out there. Comic sans font, stop-sign red lettering and florescent yellow background? Bleech.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  3. Mike in SA

    Are they crazy??? I suppose the state now can't produce a plate for supporting Davidson College without also producing one supporting High Point University. That's ridiculous. The idea that the state can't create a plate for one position without producing plates for each and every alternative position is as ludicrous as it is onerous. And who pray tell is the arbiter of what is considered a contentious issue worthy of alternative view protections? Is the state now going to have to have the courts review every single license plate they plan to produce to ensure it passes the courts "alternative positions" muster? Again...ridiculous.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      The state should not be taking a religious stance

      December 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bet

      Oh, please. Quit presenting these stupid arguments as if they are relevant. A college plate is not unconsti.tutional, the state legislation of one particular religious viewpoint is.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I suppose the state now can't produce a plate for supporting Davidson College without also producing one supporting High Point University.'

      if they vote to allow one for davidson college and vote down the right for one supporting high point university then darn right they cant produce the plate.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  4. James PDX

    This is what license plate frames and bumper stickers are for; to express personal views. This is not what our government is supposed to be doing...ever.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Issa2011


      December 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      license plates and tatoos

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Except that you feel that abortion is a government issue – i.e. they should ban it.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  5. the AnViL

    only incredibly stupid, myopic, ignorant people oppose abortion. only delusional religious idiots seek to stifle equality and liberty.


    December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • peter piper

      sounds like you belong in nazi germany.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Evolved

      Does a species evolve by murdering it's offspring?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Mike in SA

      Wow, stated with the thoughtfulness and eloquence of a troll.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Hey "Evolved" (how did you come up with that ironic name???)
      Guppies continue to evolve by "murdering " or consuming their offspring. A female Preying Mantis kills and eats it's partner after mating. Take a biology class, and remember the Preying Mantis before you try to pheuck with a woman's right to choose and right to health care.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • James PDX

      Yes, the human race continues to evolve despite killing some of its offspring. What kind of an obviously stupid question was that?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Huebert


      Many species, cattle, buffalo, bears, horses, and many others, will stop producing milk for their offspring in times of stress or hunger. Rodents will often eat their offspring, with out much provocation. A single se.xually mature adult has far more evolutionary value than one offspring, or even a litter of offspring.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • the AnViL

      peter piper = another idiot that never bothered to read any books about national socialism in germany during the 1930's and 40's. good job, stupid.

      evolved = another idiot that doesn't understand evolution and PROBABLY believes an imaginary man in the sky created the earth in 6 days.

      mike in sa – protip: if you think you're being trolled, don't feed the troll, dummy. also – lurk moar.. poast less – idiot.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      evolved: yes it does

      December 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  6. ChazG

    Obviously if one were to review the approved list of personalized licensed plates for the state of NC or any other state, you could present an argument that the majority of them should be pulled from the list because there is not an opposing view option available eg. DARE versus a Legalize Marajuana plate or College versus a PostSecondary Trade School or Military Retiree versus Conscientious Objector... you get the point. My suggestion is this, eliminate all personalized plates and go back to the standard issue numbers and letters for everyone in every state. It's your car... buy a cutomized plate from the mall with whatever you want on it and put it on the front.bumber. This option would save a lot of time and money being spent on this issue by both sides, so we could focus on things that are far more important to our everyday living.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Justin

    The "other" side is represented. The ACLU missed the boat. "Choose Life" is the position of most people who believe in Pro-Choice. The point is: Women have a Choice.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • the AnViL

      justin, no... "choose life" is the nice way delusional religious idiots say "i want to restrict your right to abort an unwanted pregnancy".

      December 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • The Truth

      So this plate should be seen as Pro-Choice? lol, you are an idiot Justin.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Akira

      They deliberately voted DOWN the "Trust Women, Respect Choice" when voting IN these plates.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Whew Justin, proof read before you hit post, or educate yourself more before posting at all. "Pro Life" mean outlaw abortion. "Pro Choice" is just a nicer way of saying "Pro Abortion" (which is OK by me, I support a woman's RIGHT TO CHOOSE, at any age, and paid for by the government) It just makes financial sense. (Better than welfare and maybe prison for an unwanted child)

      December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  8. coriolana

    typical Xian republicans. Claim they are all about the democratic process- until they have to accommodate the other side. Then they show their true colors as treasonous theocrats who should rightfully be classed a terrorist organization just like their Muslim counterparts.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  9. Nietodarwin

    Highly encouraging to see 4 pro choice comments for every 1 pro life, (maybe the ratio is even bigger) SO GREAT to see the sick influence of religion on social policy declining, (toward elimination eventually) Seeing (and counting) all the atheists on this "belief blog" the past few weeks has cheered me up and given me hope for the future. Hopefully we can soon start putting a stop to the harm that religion is doing to children (and our test scores as a nation) in this country.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  10. noah

    So they have to offer a "Choose Death" license plate?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bet


      December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Huebert

      No they just had to offer an alternative something like "Trust Women. Respect Choice."

      December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      NOAH !!!! thank you so much for the laugh, whether it was intentional or not. We have been joking about the number of people who THINK that writing "choose death" is somehow original. BTW, according to Bet's count YOU are number 205, (that's what is meant by the reply below your comment) Now, take pride in your joke, or tuck your tail between your legs, and just read instead of making a fool of yourself by posting more.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • !

      Noah, the alternative is obviously "spay/neuter". After that, no choices are needed. Do what you want where you want.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Bet

      @Nietodarwin – I have a confession to make. I didn't really count them all, but it sure feels like #205, doesn't it?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  11. hotsauce

    Women: not ready for a baby

    Man: not ready for a baby
    sorry you dont have a "choice"

    How is that fair?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I always though that if the man wanted an abortion but the woman wanted to keep it the man should be allowed to get out of paying child support. Sadly that's not the case. If the man doesn't want the child/not ready he's kinda out of luck.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • a meritocracy

      man: contributes half a cell and 7 minutes of his time
      woman: contributes everything else and 9 months of gestation + 2-24 h of labor

      When human reproduction becomes equal, men will receive equal voice in this matter. Once the baby comes out and both contribute equally to raising a child, then both have equal say. Until then, men have half a cell's worth of say.

      Men use the argument of "I make the most money around here so I make the decisions" to their spouse. Well, this argument's come around to bite you.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  12. I'm The Best!

    There needs to be one that says "choose life, have an abortion" and the picture on it is a couple going on vacation or having drinks on the beach, or hiking or backpacking, something that would be next to impossible with a child.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Brad Rainier

      I have one for the 'pro choice' folks. "Choose Death". That seems to nail it down. Maybe a picture of Satan with his pitchfork. I am sure many "pro-choice" people will jump at the chance to buy that one.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • doh!

      Now Brad, I'm staunchly pro-choice and I would likely choose life. What I would not do is impose my choice on someone else, someone like your wife. I'm also very anti-gun (guns are designed to end life). I bet you're pro-gun. Would you like me telling you to get rid of all your guns? Stop telling everyone what you want for yourself. Also, please ditch the Satan with pitchfork reference. Nobody with an education believes that crap and it makes you look like a fool.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Bet

      @Brad Ranier


      December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  13. Iowa

    They could have stopped this lawsuit from happening but NOOOOOOOO! That'd have been too easy! Idiot GOP.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  14. Randi

    I wish they would make all license plates simple and have one plate that designates that state. Let the people buy license plate frames from private companies that make whatever statement they wish to make. Its only a marketing tool to get more money into the State fund.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  15. Akira

    Women who obtain abortion represent every religious affiliation. 43% of women obtaining abortion identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic; and 13% of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians.
    Notice how many men are getting abortions? None.
    They can't, yet they are the most vocal when expressing an opinion that has nothing to do with THEIR bodies...and how many have stepped up to the plate when they found out they've inpregnated someone?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • donivan

      Many people claim religious affiliation, but just as many do not follow the religion they claim to adhere to practice. This is pure fact which invalidates your post.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Huebert

      I did.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • James PDX

      Akira, are you saying that men should have no say in the matter, or just that they are trying for too much say? While it may be the woman who is pregnant, I'm pretty sure the father has a dog in the race, too, even if it is a weiner dog compared to a Doberman Pinscher.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Tom

      Well, the little wienies need to dominate and control women.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      James. Obviously the father's opinion is a factor, but it is the woman that will carry the child and statistics show bear the brunt of rearing said offspring often without any help from the father. Even if the anti-abortion crowd offered the financial support for the first, say 21 years, it would still impact the woman's life and career. So I would argue that the woman has the final say.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Many people claim religious affiliation, but just as many do not follow the religion they claim to adhere to practice. This is pure fact which invalidates your post.'

      funny but that argument never seems to be brought up when people try to claim how small a percentage the atheist population is.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog: see p. 8 and p. 16 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 1:09 pm |
  17. Liz

    There is no reason license plates need to express controversial views and if they do, the other side should have an opportunity to express their view as well. Makes sense to me... Seriously – get a bumper sticker.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  18. Bob

    It is obvious the there are no gods. When will you children grow up and stop believing in imaginary things?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • The Truth

      They like the false narrative too much Bob. They want to be told they are super special and that the creator of the universe knows them and cares about them and they talk to him (obviously God has a penis) every day. They like to think a special place is reserved just for them and their enemies will be gnashing their teeth in pain and torture for eternity while they get to sip the wine of peace and relax in God's cloudy embrace. They like to believe that even when they make a bad choice and others get hurt it wasn't really their fault, it must have been Satan, that devious sinner they can blame all their failings on. They like to think that the ends justify the means and as long as they get what they want in the end who cares who they had to trample along the way, they can just pray for forgiveness later. They like to think they know what God is thinking so they can tell others what to do and how to behave and can police everyone else around them all while injecting their own brand of truth and justice that is far from supernatural. They are the wicked. They are the shameful. They are the disgusting thing that will be done away with and yet they have no clue that the weapon of their own demise has already been unleashed. That weapon is our new found access to information and truth from around the world in an instant also known as the world wide web. Superstltions, cult's, faiths and religions are being chipped away as more and more truth comes out about them and more and more people have access to that truth. Good riddance.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  19. ANTON333

    Just remember to choose life you are getting to make a choice! Allow everyone to make their own choice!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  20. hotsauce

    If a women makes the decision to have an abortion they should have to pay the man "lack of child" support.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • MasterWooten

      Bad decision. This judge is clearly politically motivated. Free Speach rights allows people to CHOOSE what they actually say and choose NOT to say!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Free Speach rights allows people to CHOOSE what they actually say and choose NOT to say!'

      except of course they voted down the people's right to an alternative choice. It was the right ruling.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • cdarnold2

      You are really on this kick about the man's role in all this. I can only guess as to your background on why you feel so strongly about this. However, the only response I can give you is this: when women have the ability to walk away from a child with the same ease as a man, then men should have input into the pro-life/pro-choice campaign. Until then, sorry it's not your place. No, it's not fair. But it will never be a level playing field. I personally think it should be a criminal offense punishable by law to decide not to participate in your child's life, but it's not. Neither is it illegal for a woman who makes likely the most difficult choice of her entire life.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
About this blog

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.