'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. 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:

    from the Guttmacher Insti-tute:

    "• Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use."

    December 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  2. really?

    Does anyone seriously think if the state instead offered only a pro abortion plate the ACLU would make a peep? Nope, not consistent with their agenda. DCLU is closer to the truth.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Akira

      Pro CHOICE.
      And guess what? If it were brought up to the courts, it would have ruled the same way.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Saying you are pro abortion is like saying you are pro tonsillectomy. On a license plate it would be in bad taste, but not an endorsement by the state of an idea that is religious in nature.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Why do license plates have to be a billboard for ANY political position?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • mama k

      Exactly, Cheese. People already adorn their cars with all kinds of junk. Keep that damn government-issue plate clear from anything other than the ID.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Southerner01

      This plate is pro choice. It is just advocating one of the choices. How would you word the other choice?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "How would you word the other choice?"

      Not yours

      December 12, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Simran

      I would frame the other choice as " Stand in your own shoes, let me stand in mine!"

      December 12, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • sam

      The pro-abortion plate sounds like a terrible entree.

      December 12, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Southerner01

      So cheesemaker, you want a license plate that says "not yours" on it? That's not very clear in meaning.

      December 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Southerner01


      You say the other plate should say "Stand in your own shoes, let me stand in mine". I have no problem with a plate with that text, although it is not at all an opposing view to "choose life".

      December 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, Southerner, it is. What the "choose life" plate is endorsing is allowing only ONE choice. That isn't a choice. Those who are pro-choice are not anti-life; they simply believe the choice is that of the woman who is pregnant.

      December 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  3. right4life

    Maybe they could just show a picture of an aborted baby on the licenses plate instead of the words choose life. Some states only require 1 plate.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And the choice side can have a picture of a botched back alley abortion.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • really?

      Choose Life – two words only – you don't question that a fetus is alive ( a life), do you? The plate isn't a religious endorsement.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Akira

      Pro choice conveys that same though then, by your logic.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Bet

      @ really?

      According to to your babble book, Adam was not alive until god breathed life into him. Your "god's word" says until it has taken its first breath outside the womb, it's not a life.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Al

      Maybe they just put a picture of a priest banging a 10 year old boy instead of the words pro-life.

      December 12, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  4. really?

    If you want to allow the opposite viewpoint, literally the plate should read "Choose Death." Appropo slogan for many of the radical left. ACLU are a bunch of hypocrites and shills for the left, nothing more – every lawyer knows this.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "Choose Wisely"

      As a tool of the left I find the ACLU, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club and few others to be effective foils for your sort – everyone of conscience should know this.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If they are just shills for the left why did they represent Rush Limbaugh?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Akira

      Read the article again.
      And congratulations. You're appoximately the 300th person who has used this same pithy statement.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • really?

      Lots of personal attacks, congratulations – way to debate an issue. Tolerance is the order of the day I see.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Where in the replys were you personally attacked?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Akira

      Personal attacks?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • sam

      I love how you're pretending anything you've posted was meant for debate. Away with thee, twatwaffle!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Akira

      Sam, your pet names for these posters make me giggle endlessly!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • really?

      Sam, you are a keyboard toughguy/girl. Bless your cowardly heart.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Southerner01

      The concept Pro choice means you get ot choose between the options. One option is to "choose life". What is the other choice? Tell me how you would word the oppositional choice to keeping the baby and I'll advocate for your license plate!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Life in this context is meant to be a daring statement of what is at stake in this kind of choice. No one would say that one should choose "life" for a malignant tumor (which is certainly alive). You mean "choose to preserve human life", but what of people who don't agree that a fetus is a human being and should be protected over the best interests of the mother?

      December 12, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Southerner01

      So tomtom, how about a plate that says "I was a tumor until I was born?" That seems to cover the ideas you suggest.

      December 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  5. U-87 Cylon

    License plates shouldn't make political statements at all! Now if you want to plaster your car with 100s of horribly ugly "Abortion is MURDER!" and "JESUS IS LORD" stickers, like that one mid 80's model van you see around town, go ahead. I'm just going to buy a fish that says Sushi instead of Jesus. And since I live in NC my car will probably get vandalized for it.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Southerner01

      If you live in NYC, your car will probably be vandalized anyway, regardless of whether you get a fish.

      December 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  6. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Yet another 501(c)(3) with a national agenda. This is much bigger than North Carolina.

    "Choose Life America, Inc. is an IRC 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible. Contributions and profits from the sale of promotional items are used to help Choose Life America, Inc. promote the sale of the real Choose Life License Plate which raises funds to support adoption efforts of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes and not-for-profit adoption agencies. Please consider supporting us. Everyone is a volunteer; no salaries are paid to anyone."


    It's interesting to see which states use the graphic with a white child and a black child.

    Out of 29 states with "choose life" plates:
    Both white (or background) ..... 16
    One white, one black ................ 07
    Different graphic:....................... 06

    December 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      A graphic of a blastocyst would be more honest than this one.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  7. lol??

    I saw one that said, "Allah&PP, 911Everyday"

    December 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  8. Southerner01

    Funny thing is that if this plate said "choose trees" the same people hating it would love it.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And if it said "choose guns" the people who like it now would still like it.....and that's even funnier.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  9. Wendy

    I'm going to sue because I didn't see a "Kill the Turtle" license plate as an opposing view the the "save the turtle" plate they offer in North Carolina.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • End Religion

      Reread the article until you understand why you're a nitwit.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  10. Teenager

    Can't people see the logic in all of this besides bringing religion into the argument. (And I am a Christian and Pro-Lifer.) This judge just basically infringed on someone else's First Amendment right to protect another. No matter what side you're on, you have to see the basic logic here.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why? You obviously don't.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You little twerp, nobody is preventing your pro-life pals from expressing themselves. They can buy a bumper sticker or plaster their front doors with all the slogans they want. What they don't get to do is have the state sanction their point of view while refusing to afford others the same right.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Political statements of any stripe do not belong on license plates.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm |

      I think if the state were providing the tags for free then they would be wrong..however since we actually pay for them..why not?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's right and good that you should want to protect another human being. The Constitution doesn't specify that as a right, but I hope we all agree we have that right. I think a fully formed nervous system, and consciousness of self are important determinants of what makes a human being a human being. Fetuses lack that and so shouldn't have special protections or rights that supersede those of its mother. People appeal to religion for reasons why it should. States cannot take sides in an argument based on religious ideas.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Southerner01

      Tomtom, what do you want the other plate to say? remember that this plate says choose life, not ban abortion. If you are for a choice and one choice is to choose to carry the child, what do you want on the other plate?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      "Respect choice"

      December 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Per the (short) article:

      "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."

      December 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      Because they ruled against citizens being able to pay to have an opposing view on their plate. It's really not that hard to figure out why this would be overruled.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Lolo

      No one is trying to prevent people from expressing their pro-life views. The point is the state was refusing to allow those that are pro-choice to express their view.
      The ruling simply states that both sides must be given an equal platform.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Southerner01

      "I'm not" How does saying "choose life" not respect choice?It is just encouraging one choice. Wouldn't the oppositional position be to choose the other choice?

      December 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Southerner01

      Respect choice is not the oppositional position from choose life. Choose life respects choice. It just encourages one choice. The other position is to advocate the other choice.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The other choice: the best interest of the mother who, unlike the fetus, is a human being.

      December 12, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Southerner01

      Tomtom, I am not one of those people who thinks a woman who's life or health are at risk should attempt to carry to term. Certainly in those cases the life of the mother should take precedence. Nor am I suggesting, as some would, that abortion be illegal. However, I see nothing wrong with encouraging women to carry to term then put the child up for adoption, just like I don't think it is bad to encourage them to use condoms, as well as other forms of birth control.

      December 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  11. YeahRight

    Bartender, another Dewars with 2 ice cubes. Hand me a few Bayer aspirin.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  12. G_Edwards

    I would have figured that to the liberal way of thinking, NC's "National Rifle Association" specialty plate would be close enough to the opposite of "Choose Life."

    December 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Bet

      Ooh, super clever! You're only the 250th person to make some version of that joke today.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm |

      G_Edwards...you cannot use liberal and thinking in the same sentence...the two are mutually exclusive.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  13. Akira

    Sortakinda is also Chick-a-dee, who pretends to be an Italian Catholic who is currently married.
    She is none of those things.
    She IS person who pretended to be
    16 years old yesterday...when in fact she is a 47 yo woman.
    And she has the NERVE to call US posers?
    She pulls this sh!t all the time.
    Her false piety is only exceeded by her duplicity.

    December 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well. Smack my ass and call me "honey"! So the Chick-a-doobie is pulling a herbie? What a shock that an anti-choice zealot would be a dishonest POS! I'm SHOCKED! Shocked, I tell you!

      December 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Akira

      I knew you would be, Tom Tom, LOL, not.
      Like I said, she pulls this sh!t all the time.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Akira

      And as per her usual MO, sortakinda runs away.
      Typical behavior for this known hypocrite.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Bet

      She's probably busy building a new identi.ty.

      December 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  14. NC_Right

    This is all a BS argument

    December 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  15. Moby Schtick


    "The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion" article

    December 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  16. lol??

    Jesus was not wanted in this world. The killers would double kill Him if they could. They do it here. They must think He's one of their own, a gang banger.

    December 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  17. End Religion

    30 pages and it is still an endless festival of Retardlicans with the same argument revealing they either didn't read the article or didn't understand it. Retardlicans, are you really worried about our country? Please fight for more money to be spent on education - you really need it.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  18. JC

    You guys are pretty brutal...
    You act like I'm some stealth religious republican out to play some mind game!
    Good gracious...
    I just thought some people's comments were not very funny and underminded either sides feelings. And maybe if they read up on this stuff they wouldnt say such things without a little more thought. And yes, the pictures are wrong to post... But ignoring people that do that is probably the best way to go? I am one that wouldn't have an abortion, but just want others to be educated on all aspects of it, and their
    opinion can be what it is. I am not arrogant... So guys please lay off... I was just trying to have conversation...

    December 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Observer


      Of course you'd have an abortion if it was necessary to save your life. Same if it was your daughter/sister/mother, etc.

      Let's get real.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Underminded"? Did you think that was a word?

      December 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  19. sortakinda

    Excuse me, Tom Tom. Jane Roe identified the procedure, not me. It wouldn't bother you to have a nearly full-term baby have his skull crushed in order that you could have the abort that you believe is your right? How about when they break off the limbs to complete the job? You are to be pitied.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • niknak

      You might want to read up on late term abortions and how often they happen and for what reasons.
      Since 2007 34 state had bans on late term abortions and all the others had some form of restrictions, all making late term abortions only possible for viability of the fetus and life of the mother.
      They are extremely rare procedures, as most abortions take place before the 9th week of gestation, when the fetus is nothing more then a ball of dividing cells.
      Ireland is the prime example of not allowing any abortions for any reason and the consequences when things go wrong.

      And are you willing to pay more in taxes to take care of all those kids?
      I bet you would not pay one dime more for the 54 mill aborted since 1973 like you posted below.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sorta idiotic, what part of "this procedure has been illegal for years" do you not comprehend? Read slowly. Move your lips.

      Maybe after much repet ition, the facts will sink in.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Southerner01

      The partial birth abortion procedure has been banned. However, the law doesnothing to prohibit any other process of abortion right up to the delivery date. But hey, keep spouting the mantra.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Bet


      However, the law doesnothing to prohibit any other process of abortion right up to the delivery date.

      Women have access to abortion in the third trimester only in extreme circu.mstances. Fewer than 2% of abortions are provided at 21 weeks or after, and they are extremely rare after 26 weeks of pregnancy. Very few abortions are provided in the third trimester, and they are generally limited to cases of severe fetal abnormalities or situations when the life or health of the pregnant woman is seriously threatened.

      December 12, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I see the fundies are still at it.

    Jeff, dear, if you're reading, you should probably take a class. It's worthy 'adversary,' ya moron.

    The day some half-wit like you and your anti-choice cronies think you can dictate what women "must do" is the day the SCOTUS rolls over and plays dead.

    You're nothing but a hypocrite. You don't care about the fetus. Your sole intent is to force women who have s3x to pay for their mistake by giving birth, as though they just get pregnant all by themselves. Too bad for you, honey, but you don't get to decide that. It's already been done. More than 3 decades ago.

    It's not going to be overturned.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • sortakinda

      The first one to resort to name calling loses the argument. You lose, Tom Tom.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah...seems mainly to stem from the basic idea of 'wimmins should keep their legs together or else THEY ARE WHOOOOOORES'. They don't really care about babies. They just want to punish their mommies for never breast feeding them enough when they were tykes.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • sam

      @sortakinda – what is this, middle school? Bug off, douchecanoe.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, dear sorta dumb. I didn't "lose" at all. Last I checked, abortion was still legal and you have achieved nothing whatsoever, other than to make yourself a laughingstock as a result of your ignorance.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Akira

      New to these boards?
      The politeness police?
      Please go through every post, especially 'Atheist Hunter's', and politely remind it not to call the people it disagrees with perverts, evil, possessed, deviants, etc.
      You wouldn't be the person who was pretending to be 16 yesterday, would you?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • sam

      @Akira – sortakinda could NEVER get into advanced placement.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Akira

      Sam: no doubt...and btw, your canoe comment made me laugh...

      December 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Giacamo

      You're an idiot, aren't you?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Sam-asking if it's Middle School? Have an adult read your posts to you and you'll have the answer.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Akira

      Sortakinda, cupcake, I'll type this extremely slowly so you can follow along:
      Religious beliefs do not belong in civil law.
      You DON'T get a say in whatever any other woman does with her body, no matter how personally repugnant you find it.
      If you don't want a legal abortion, do not get one.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
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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.