by Steven Ertelt
September 6, 2004
Little Rock, AR (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge last week allowed a pro-life law firm to intervene in the defense of 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.
In July, the Liberty Counsel, a group of pro-life attorneys, had asked to participate in the lawsuit on behalf of several pro-life groups, including Arkansas Right to Life and two crisis pregnancy centers.
Federal Judge Harry Barnes granted Liberty Counsel’s request.
"We are pleased that the court granted our intervention request. Now we will go toe-to-toe with the radical abortion advocates who seek to trash the ‘Choose Life’ license plates," said Matt Staver, lead counsel for the pro-life law firm.
"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. Their actions betray their rhetoric," Staver explained.
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.
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 that more than 40,000 plates have been sold nationwide.
Last year, after being granted intervention, Liberty Counsel successfully defended Florida’s "Choose Life" license plate, which has generated over $2 million for groups that promote adoption and crisis pregnancy centers helping women find abortion alternatives.