'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. Natalie

    How is this a great victory for free speech rights for all when we who are pro-life aren't allowed to express our views?

    And TimInNc...the Roman Catholic Church states that life begins at the moment of conception. Maybe you should attend mass, then you'd have your facts straight!

    December 11, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Name*John

      Natalie: whole point, victory for free speech cause pro-lifer opinion was the only choice. Get it? If my opinion is only available and yours isn't, then you are repressed. Logic.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • the AnViL

      yeah – except there's no gods thus completely negating the veracity of catholicism.

      here's a keen idea – if you are opposed to abortion AND you are a pregnant woman... don't have an abortion.
      just don't think you have the right to decide for others. i'm betting you wouldn't want others deciding for you.

      grow up – evolve.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:24 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      Natalie, how are you not allowed to express your views? You're doing it right here, aren't you?

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

      Personal views do not belong on license plates. Keep it on bumper stickers. And btw. Stop pushing your religion onto others. Not everyone is catholic

      December 11, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • Mark

      AGAIN! You just used your ability for free speech and NOBODY stopped you. It just wasn't facilitated or promoted by the govt. C'mon people this is 8th grade civics material!

      December 11, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  2. Sam

    You might be a Redneck!

    December 11, 2012 at 5:07 am |
  3. Repub

    I believe North Caroline should indeed offer an alternative to the "Choose Life" license plate: "CHOOSE DEATH" maybe with an image of an aborted baby next to it. That would be fair, wouldn't it?

    December 11, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • phillykev

      only to a fool like you

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

      Without passing a value judgment, legally the state has the better argument. I'm pretty sure this will be overturned on appeal. The state is allowed to have its own message and subsidize that message. The mother and father cases which support this view are Rust v. Sullivan and Finley v NEA. As long as they aren't forcing it upon people, the state should be in the clear. Previous cases striking licesnse plates only deal with license plates that were given to people involuntarily.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • End Religion

      Sign me up one fetus plate, please!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  4. monte

    republicans are only pro life until the embilical cord is cut, then they could care less if u starve to death right after birth. it is part of there master plan to over-populate the country so that u will have 100 people lined up to apply for 1 job opening, the 1 willing to work for lowest wage gets the job.
    right to life, right to work, ect. they hide their true agendas in the name of morals. if republicans really cared about morals, they would allow tax hike on top 2% so we could move on, but they wont because it goes aganst there true agenda.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • Repub

      Yep, that's right! After the umbilical cord is cut, everyone's responsible for themselves. Nothing wrong with that.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:09 am |
    • the AnViL

      repub – yeah that's funny – i know you're joking – but that's really what retarded, delusional, ignorant, xian, conservative, idiots actually think.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:14 am |
  5. the AnViL

    unless you are a pregnant woman – the choice is not yours to make.

    it's always the ignorant, delusional, myopic, retarded, xian, conservative, idiots who believe they know better than everyone else.

    they are the ones who should have been aborted.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  6. P

    This is the header on CNN's page? This is a non-story, affecting a sliver of the American population. CNN, as a liberal establishment, is pro-abortion. The fact that they highlight it evidences their bias

    December 11, 2012 at 4:57 am |
    • Gaunt

      yeah, how DARE a news organisation report the news?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      oh cry more. how many pro-christian stories have atheists had to swallow? "what coffee would jesus drink?" and "2 nuns travel across country" or "virgin mary appears in a piece of toast". all media is pro christianity. if they reported the truth, stories would have headlines like "christianity still largest cult in america".

      December 11, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Scowl

      Baby needs a nappy-poos and a burpies, doesn't he? Awww!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • End Religion

      "New Poll Shows Less People Talking to Imaginary Sky Fairies"

      December 11, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • Diffo

      I'm Jewish and none of those stories ever bother me. It's the extremely dramatic people screaming for attention all the time by protesting Christian stuff that bothers me. How can you care so much?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • phillykev

      i wonder how you would fell if they only had pro choice plates??? ....i bet this would be the number one story on FOX no-news

      December 11, 2012 at 5:12 am |
    • Doctadocta

      @PhillyKev uhhhhh they do have pro-choice plates. Do you feel silly?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:13 am |
    • phillykev

      no ....not in North Carolina....didn't you read the Article?..........do you feel silly?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:20 am |
    • phillykev


      Just to help you out “North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives”

      December 11, 2012 at 5:22 am |
  7. Alan Sikes

    I am a native North Carolinian–Born and Bred there in NC. . . and I totally agree with the ACLU on this. . .

    December 11, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • Randall Norris

      This ruling makes too much sense. It will never stand LOL

      December 11, 2012 at 5:01 am |
  8. Franky

    Ever notice lots of pro-life folks are neither anti-capital puni shment nor pacfist?

    I love this ruling and this is what I love about the US what don't have to have some one less religious beliefs stuff down our throats!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • Repub

      I'm anti-abortion and I'm pro-capital punishment.....Oooooohhhhh, spooooky

      December 11, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  9. Name*keith

    God says. Thou shalt not kill. Which means do not murder. If you say the unborn child does not exist, why does it have a beating heart ?

    December 11, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • Gaunt

      Firstly, the fetus doesnt have a beating heart until about 6 weeks. So I assume you have no objection whatsoever to abortion before 6 weeks?

      Secondly, a heartbeat is not an indicator of humanity or of a life form. The indicators of a life form are well established and universally accepted in medical and biological science, and they include viability. Until viability, there is no life form. Why do you think abortion tends to be illegal, even in very liberal countries, after 24 weeks except in emergencies?

      No viability = no life form = nobody.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • End Religion

      Keith/hoser/whaetever, it's not a child, no matter how many times you say it. You nutters do have trouble with the truth, don't you? Even though lying is one of the Top 10 No-Nos you still lie and lie and lie. Hope you packed your asbestos swim trunks!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:55 am |
    • Rob

      how are you defining/ determining viability.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:58 am |
    • sjc14850

      Keith, whatever the merits of your argument, it's irrelevant; the question is whether a state can offer a specialty plate to supporters of one side of an issue and deny one to the opposition. That's all.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:58 am |
    • End Religion

      However the law determines it.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Rob

      does the law define it?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • Name*keith

      Whos law. Man's or Gods. That's the question.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • Doctadocta

      @Gaunt As a holder of two-post-graduate degrees in biology, viability include the ability to reproduce, which (under your definition) would make all children "not living." Should we abort children?
      Maybe you meant to say fetal viability, and other than legal definitions, no scientific definitions exist to define a person as living based on fetal viability

      December 11, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Gaunt

      Rob: There is only one definition of viability: the ability to survive and thrive independently. Its a biological definition, and has always been so. Until a fetus is viable, it is not a life form.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • Gaunt

      (much laughter)

      Really, two post-graduate degrees in biology?

      (more laughter)

      Then how exactly did you get all that schoolin' in biology and not learn that viability has NOTHING to do with the ability to reproduce? Nothing whatsoever?

      How do you not know the strict, universally accepted criteria for determining a life form? Missed that in your 'multiple post graduate degrees'?

      Amazing how uneducated adolescents on the internet always claim vast education in an effort to make their silly lies seem more plausible.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:21 am |
    • Doctadocta

      @Gaunt viability has nothing to do with your fictional definition of life! In biological terms, there are only characteristics for a living thing, one of which includes the ability to reproduce. To twist that into saying "characteristics for a living thing = definition of life" is absolutely incorrect, because that would define all pre-pubescents as non-living.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • Gaunt

      Nice attempt to squirm away from your overt humiliation, and revealed bold-faced lie about your so called 'education'.

      Interesting how you now claim there are NO biological criteria for a life form, and that viability is some 'invention' of mine. Odd how you claim something to utterly false, while squealing about your great 'edumacation' in biology.

      I will be nice and give you a chance to reconsider, retract and apologize for your past claim, before I post you four seperate sources, including the Royal Society and the Oxford Journal of Molecular cell biology, proving you embarassingly wrong.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:54 am |
  10. Mg

    God is/was an alien.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • God


      December 11, 2012 at 4:55 am |
    • aliens


      December 11, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  11. Tim

    Those who voted for George W. Bush twice shouldn't call anyone a friggin' idiot. Whose the fool? The fool himself or the fool who follows him?

    December 11, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • Tortfeasor

      Al Gore wasn't a great alternative. He may be smarter, but he wanted to shut down power plants and create an energy crisis in the name of reducing the inexorable flow of GHGs into the atmosphere.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:45 am |
  12. Name*keith

    Abortion is murder in Gods eyes. He is the only just Judge.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • Gaunt

      Please cite any passage in either Old or New Testament where god specifically prohibits abortion.

      I dare you.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • jami

      It's a god thing that God doesn't exist then

      December 11, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • Solarcide

      Seeing as how 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and before modern medicine, 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in the death of either the potential offspring, or of the mother, according to your "logic" your god is the biggest murderer of them all.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • AGeek

      But it's not murder if it's done in the name of God? You people are beyond nutters.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • End Religion

      If god is the only just judge, how do you know abortion is murder? Please don't say the bible. You know you're supposed to believe god's judgement comes after death, so you really don't know if god judges abortion as murder. Instead you have strong convictions about it; strong convictions that do not align with law.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • God


      December 11, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • phillykev

      not in this country ...where the laws are by men ...not some fairy tale

      December 11, 2012 at 5:29 am |
  13. *hoser dude*

    Eric, in all courts, genetics is used to I’d a person.

    Sample the unborn. Is it the mom’s genes? The dad’s? Or is it legal defined as a different person if permitted to leave a particular point in space-time (the womb). Prochoice says I can kill my kid as long as I do it in my own home.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Gaunt

      In courts Genetics are used to identify a person, not cetegoize them. Yes the zygote has a unique genetic profile. So what? That doesnt render it any more of a life form.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • End Religion

      Hoser, you're having some trouble suffering your defeat like an adult. You just kep losing left and right, eh? Can you describe your feelings at having your religion slowly fade away? I will take notes.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  14. God

    You're welcome.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  15. *hoser dude*

    In all courts, genetics is used to I’d a person.

    Sample the unborn. Is it the mom’s genes? The dad’s? Or is it legal defined as a different person if permitted to leave a particular point in space-time (the womb). Prochoice says I can kill my kid as long as I do it in my own home.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  16. Rob

    I'm sure the religious right will pitch a fit. I'm already seeing the headlines on Faux news. But lets face it, "SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE" needs to be just that. It's funny how the religious right scream about people trying to change the 2nd amendment, but when it comes to the separation of church and state, a more fundamental pillar of our country, they couldn't care less as long as its their religion being packaged with a government policy.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:27 am |
  17. bob

    The church is good enough to throw around money for birth control now, but when it comes to a plate they have to go. This is why liberals are friggin idiots and ruining this country at a rapid pace

    December 11, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • Pro choice

      Lack of alternative is what the article is about. I would be without a plate in this state if this was all that was offered.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:35 am |
    • End Religion

      if this decision ruins the country, then bring on ruination! Back to your bunker, reprobate.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:58 am |
  18. *hoser dude*

    That's a crap argument.

    In all courts, genetics is used to I'd a person.

    Sample the unborn. Is it the mom's genes? The dad's? Or is it legal defined as a different person if permitted to leave a particular point in space-time (the womb). Prochoice says I can kill my kid as long as I do it in my own home.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:26 am |
  19. ML

    On one hand i think plate looks cute. On the other hand its politically motivated and doesnt belong on a Govt issued item.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  20. BD70

    Voted down an amendment of pro choice huh...nothing like using your position to voice your opinion and ONLY your opinion. Good example of how not to be as a lawmaker.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:18 am |
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