Arizona Commission Unanimously Approves New Choose Life License Plates

State   Steven Ertelt   Jan 7, 2009   |   9:00AM    WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona Commission Unanimously Approves New Choose Life License Plates

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 7
, 2009

Phoenix, AZ (LifeNews.com) — Following a court order requiring them to do so, members of the Arizona License Plate Commission voted unanimously today to approve the Choose Life license plate for motorists. Now, just a few administrative steps remain before Arizona residents can order the plates and support pro-life efforts.

Cathy Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, tells LifeNews.com that the next steps are already in the works and the Choose Life plates could be on the road shortly.

"The Arizona Department of Transportation began those administrative steps today, so hopefully the Arizona Life Coalition, the sponsoring organization for the plates, will begin accepting license plate applications within the next month," she said.

Herrod said the decision is the culmination of six years of hard work by pro-life advocates who attended the commission’s original hearing six years ago.

It’s denial of the Choose Life plates led to litigation that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The License Plate Commission’s vote today complies with a court order upholding the principle that life-affirming expression is constitutionally protected just like any other speech," Herrod said.

In November, a federal court ordered the commission to move forward after the Supreme Court, the moth prior, let stand a federal appeals court ruling saying Arizona pro-life advocates could have the specialty plates.

The high court denied a writ of certiorari in the case of Arizona Life Coalition v. Stanton after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the September 2005 decision of U.S. District Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt.

The appeals court had ruled that pro-life advocates would have their First Amendment rights abrogated by state officials preventing motorists from purchasing Choose Life license plates.

Herrod told LifeNews.com she was thankful "for a monumental pro-life victory – one that will spread a positive, life-affirming message on license plates throughout our state."

When motorists purchase the plates for their automobiles, part of the cost of the specialty plate provides needed funding to help mothers facing crisis pregnancies choose life for their unborn children.

"It’s not every day we have a significant pro-life victory and this one took over six years – so celebrate this one," she said.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and the Center for Arizona Policy represented the Arizona Life Coalition, which tried to make the plates a reality.

ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb told LifeNews.com that pro-life groups "shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs."

“Many other groups have been allowed to participate in the Arizona specialty plate program. The commission had no legitimate reason to selectively exclude this group. We’re pleased that the plates will soon be available to the public," he said.

Representing over 100,000 Arizona residents who said they wanted the plates, the Arizona Life Coalition applied for a specialty license plate with the slogan “Choose Life” in 2002.

In arguing for the state, James Morrow, an assistant state attorney general, previously said "The state must have the power to decline to express viewpoints that it does not wish to express."

To get on the waiting list for a plate, contact the Center for Arizona Policy.

Related web sites:
Center for Arizona Policy – http://www.azpolicy.org

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