University of Arkansas Aids Choose Life License Plate Legal Defense

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 6, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

University of Arkansas Aids Choose Life License Plate Legal Defense

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
August 6, 2004

Fayetteville, AR (LifeNews.com) — The University of Arkansas is looking to intervene in a lawsuit targeting "Choose Life" license plates, as the lawsuit could also do away with a scholarship program at the University.

According to the University’s Alumni association, a "sizable" number of freshman receive $1,000 renewable "Roads Scholarships" that are paid for by the University’s specialty plates, which feature the razorback mascot.

According to the affidavit filed by the Anthony McAdoo, Director of Alumni Programs for the Arkansas Alumni Association, approximately $387,000 in "Roads Scholarships" have been made possible by sales of the plates.

If the specialty plate system is declared unconstitutional, as abortion advocates wants, 58 current students will be "detrimentally impacted" and the program will be unavailable to future students.

A spokesman for the University told LifeNews.com that it is their policy not to comment on pending litigation in which the University is currently involved.

There are currently over fifty specialty plates available in Arkansas. Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, said that all of those organizations will lose a revenue source if the lawsuit is successful.

Mimms told LifeNews.com that the Attorney General’s office had sent out notices to organizations with specialty plates informing them of the impact the lawsuit could have on their license plates.

"I’m glad to see that people are paying attention and taking this seriously," said Mimms.

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 pro-adoption "Choose Life" 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 possibly a breach of ethics for Norwood to ask Brackett, a client, to inquire about the plates.

"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, who is defending the plate, in a statement.

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. No new figures have been released.

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.

Related web sites:
Arkansas Choose Life Plates – https://www.artl.org/license_official.htm