Arkansas Choose Life License Plate Gets Legal Help in Lawsuit
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 9, 2004
Little Rock, AR (LifeNews.com) — The Liberty Counsel has stepped in to assist in the defense of the Arkansas "Choose Life" license plates. Recently, a pro-abortion attorney filed a lawsuit challenging not only the Arkansas plates that benefit adoption, but the entire state specialty plate system.
Liberty Counsel, a pro-life law firm which successfully defended challenges to the Florida "Choose Life" plates, will intervene in Brackett v. Weiss, a lawsuit alleging that the state created a forum in which only pro-adoption advocates have a voice.
"If those who call themselves ‘pro-choice’ were genuinely concerned about the best interests of women and children, they would welcome a pro-adoption message," said Matthew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel. "Their actions betray their rhetoric."
According to the Los Angeles Times, Doug Norwood, a defense attorney based in northwest Arkansas, wanted to sue the state to overturn the legislation passed by the state legislature authorizing the plates. However, he feared he would have difficulty obtaining standing in court to allow him to sue, so he enlisted the help of Tamara Brackett, whom he had defended on criminal charges.
Norwood asked Brackett to go to a license plate office near her home and request a pro-abortion license plate he knew didn’t exist. After a clerk told her there was no such plate, Norwood filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to defend her rights.
Pro-life groups say it was inappropriate and possibly a breach of ethics for Norwood to ask Brackett, a client, to inquire about the plates.
For each purchase of the Arkansas "Choose Life" license plate, which requires and additional fee, a donation is made to local crisis pregnancy centers, with the express condition that no funds may go to an entity that provides, promotes, or refers for abortion.
"For no other reason except that she disagrees with and finds offensive the Choose Life message, an individual plaintiff commenced a lawsuit to invalidate the Choose Life statute and the entire specialty license system," notes the Liberty Counsel in a statement.
There are currently over fifty specialty plates available in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Choose Life plates went on sale in August and, according to numbers from the state, as of October 31, 446 had been sold.
Ten states currently have "Choose Life" plates on residents’ cars: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Louisiana, and Montana. It is estimated some 40,000 plates have been sold nationwide.
Nationally, the tags have raised some $2.6 million to help pay for adoption services, health care and other expenses for pregnant women considering abortion, and other abortion alternatives.
Florida’s sales alone have made up over $2 million of that money, and according to the FL DMV, the "Choose Life" plates were the #9 top selling specialty plates of 89 in that state in the past 12 months.
Tennessee and South Carolina have approved "Choose Life" plates, but have not yet made them available to motorists.