Arizona Attorney General Wants Choose Life Plate Lawsuit Dismissed

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 3, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona Attorney General Wants Choose Life Plate Lawsuit Dismissed

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
October 3, 2003

Phoenix, AZ ( — The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has recommended dismissal of a lawsuit designed to make "Choose Life" license plates available in that state.

The reasons include a lack of a right to free speech on a license plate — despite the fact that other for-profit and non-profit groups have been allowed to have plates made benefiting their organizations.

The Arizona Life Coalition had filed suit on September 4, alleging that the state’s License Place Commission, by denying the organization’s "Choose Life" plate design, violated their right to free speech. The suit alleges that the reason given, that the "Choose Life" slogan was too controversial and the group did not benefit the community widely enough, was not sufficient reason to discriminate against the pro-life group, which intended to use its $17 share of the $25 registration fee to help crisis pregnancy centers in Arizona.

Some groups that have been approved by the Arizona License Plate Commission 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.

"We will pursue every legal option to stand up for the women and children of Arizona who need this critical support," Shane Wikfors, Executive Director of Arizona Right to Life told "[They] don’t seem to understand that every dollar raised will help women who have decided to choose life. During these financially challenging times, the Arizona Life Coalition has stepped up to the plate to offer a private sector solution to the problem of crisis pregnancies."

"I fee quite confident they will prevail," Russell Amerling, National Publicity Coordinator of Choose Life, Inc. said of the Arizona Life Coalition. "[The right to] free speech has prevailed in other states regarding specialty plates, including the ‘Choose Life’ plates."

During an interview with, Amerling explained that in two states, South Carolina and Louisiana, opponents of the "Choose Life" plates had filed lawsuits to block the plates. He also stated that even after denying the plates, Connecticut now has "Choose Life" plates on the roads.

Nine states currently have plates on residents’ cars: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arkasas, Conneticut, Maryland, and Louisiana. Due to an injunction, Louisiana has halted the sale of "Choose Life" plates, despite the fact they have been printed there already for about one year.

Three states have approved the plates but have not yet made them available: Tennessee, Montana, and South Carolina.

According to Amerling, the plates have generated approximately 2.3 million dollars to abortion alternatives, such as adoption and crisis pregnancy centers. Florida’s "Choose Life" plates have generated 2 million of that revenue.

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.