Arkansas Law May Make Choose Life License Plate Lawsuit Invalid

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 21, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arkansas Law May Make Choose Life License Plate Lawsuit Invalid Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 21, 2005

Little Rock, AR ( — A new state law that takes responsibility for approving specialty plates away from the state legislature makes a lawsuit against the Arkansas Choose Life license plates moot, state officials say.

An Arkansas woman filed a lawsuit against the state in November 2003 claiming she attempted to purchase a "pro-choice" license plate to express her views in favor of abortion and was turned down by a state agency.

Richard Weiss, director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, named in the lawsuit, said the new statute makes the lawsuit moot because appeals courts have ruled that the repeal of an allegedly unconstitutional law invalidates such a lawsuit.

The state legislature approved a measure allowing Weiss’ agency authority over specialty plates rather than having plate sponsors submit bills in the state legislature.

Weiss made the charge in a motion filed in the case on Wednesday and also said federal courts have no jurisdiction in the case because the lawsuit deals with state tax law, The Morning News reported.

Weiss also argues that the woman, Tamara Brackett of Fayetteville, does not have standing to sue the state since the license plate law only applies to organizations and not individuals.

Doug Norwood, a pro-abortion defense attorney based in northwest Arkansas, filed the lawsuit on Brackett’s behalf. He is challenging not only the Arkansas plates that benefit adoption, but the entire state specialty plate system.

He 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.

Related web sites:
Arkansas Choose Life Plates –