Tennessee Choose Life License Plates Get Federal Court Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Tennessee Choose Life License Plates Get Federal Court Hearing Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 24, 2004

Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — Tennessee’s "Choose Life" license plates were the subject of a court hearing on Thursday, as abortion advocates attempt to deny drivers the option of purchasing the specialty tag that helps pregnant mothers.

A lawsuit filed by the pro-abortion ACLU and Planned Parenthood abortion businesses against the state of Tennessee and pro-abortion Governor Gov. Phil Bredesen charges that the state discriminated by only offering a pro-life plate. Bredesen allowed the Choose Life plate legislation to become law without his signature.

Two amendments to the Choose Life plate bill to create a license plate that backed abortion failed in the state Assembly.

"The legislature determines what plates are approved," said Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the Tennessee ACLU. "That means the state is discriminating against different viewpoints."

But State Sen. Jim Bryson (R-Franklin), who sponsored the Choose Life plate measure, told the City Paper that the ACLU is just upset because it didn’t get it’s desired plate approved.

"The whole case was brought because they think they can’t get their own plate," said Bryson. "I think quite frankly its extremely selfish the fact that they’re willing to destroy the entire program because they don’t like one plate; it’s selfish and way over the top."

Should the ACLU win at the district court level, Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, says his group will file an appeal.

The ACLU is suing to overturn the entire affinity license plate system, which could cost as much as $6.7 million in benefit for non-profit groups that rely on income from sales of the plates. To replenish those funds, Bredesen include additional funds in his budget for those groups affected by the lawsuit.

However, because the Choose Life plates haven’t yet been produced, any proceeds from plate sales won’t be reimbursed in Bredesen’s budget. Proceeds from the plate benefit New Life Resources, a crisis pregnancy center that provides help and support to pregnant women.

The Tennessee state legislature approved the plates by votes of 26-4 in the Senate and 80-14 in the House in 2003.

Related web sites:
Tennessee Right to Life – https://www.tnrtl.org