Supreme Court Won’t Hear Choose Life License Plate Case

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 24, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 24, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case out of South Carolina over the issuance of Choose Life license plates. Abortion advocates took the state to court claiming the plates infringe on their First Amendment free speech rights.

The decision leaves case law in doubt as two separate federal appeals courts issued differing rulings about the constitutionality of the plates.

The top court’s refusal means South Carolina must either withdraw the plates from the specialty plate system or issue license plates with a pro-abortion slogan.

Passed in 2001, the measure would allow state residents to spend $70 on the specialty plates and part of the funds would go to groups that help women find alternatives to abortion.

However, shortly after the measure took effect, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit contending that the plates discriminate against those who support abortion.

South Carolina officials responded that the abortion business had no standing to sue because it had no proposed a plate of its own, but a district court disagreed.

Last year, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision overturning the Choose Life plates. South Carolina filed a motion to reconsider the ruling, but the court voted 8-5 against it.

The appeals court’s ruling is at odds with a ruling in a similar case issued by the 5th Circuit Court, which ruled that abortion advocates in Louisiana had no standing to sue in a similar Choose Life plate case. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the Louisiana case.

The case is Rose v. Planned Parenthood of South Carolina, 04-429.