Arizona Pro-Life Group Sues State Over Choose Life Plates

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 4, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona Pro-Life Group Sues State Over Choose Life Plates

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 4, 2003

Phoenix, AZ ( — A pro-life group in Arizona working to secure Choose Life license plates has sued the state this week because it denied them the ability to produce the plates even though they had met all of the legal requirements.

The Arizona Life Coalition has sued the Arizona License Plate Commission, saying it has met all of the legal criteria needed. However, the commission by voice vote last week denied the request for a Choose Life specialty plate, saying that the decision was "final."

"The commission chair said ‘nothing more can be done,’ but something can always be done in federal court when state officials trample constitutional rights," said Gary McCaleb, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life legal group representing the organization.

The lawsuit alleges that the commission violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment by denying the coalition a license plate

The suit also claims violations of free speech rights under the state constitution.

"The program intentionally allows private organizations and their individual members that meet the criteria to express their chosen organization’s messages through symbols, slogans, and organizational titles," McCaleb said.

"But the commission rejected the coalition license plates, and certainly appears to have exercised viewpoint discrimination."

Each plate cost $25 with $17 going toward the work of crisis pregnancy centers.

The commission has allowed similar organizations to participate in the plate program and express their messages through symbols, mottos, and organizational names.

Some groups that have plates include the University of Phoenix, a for-profit entity, as well as other non-profits: the Fire Fighter’s Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Legion of Valor, and the Wildlife Conservation Council.

That upsets the pro-life group given the Choose Life plate denial.

"The law requires the commission to treat the Arizona Life Coalition the same as it treats other organizations," McCaleb said.

The Arizona Life Coalition is a collection of pro-life organizations, including Arizona Right to Life, the Center for Arizona Policy, several crisis pregnancy centers, the Knights of Columbus and other groups that help women facing unexpected pregnancies.

Related web sites:

Arizona Life Coalition –