Louisiana Choose Life License Plate Challenge Fails Again

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Choose Life License Plate Challenge Fails Again Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 22, 2005

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — A pro-abortion challenge to Louisiana’s Choose Life license plates met its second defeat this year at a federal appeals court. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to reject reviewing a three-judge panel’s decision in April dismissing a pro-abortion lawsuit regarding Louisiana’s entire specialty plate system.

The 8-8 decision upholds the panel’s ruling overturning a decision by District Court Judge Stanwood Duval, which invalidated Louisiana’s specialty plate system.

New Orleans attorney Bill Rittenberg, who represents the abortion advocates in the lawsuit, said he will file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Two years ago, Duval ruled that the specialty license plate system violates the free speech rights of some Louisiana residents because it does not include a pro-abortion license plate. The three-judge panel ordered Duval to dismiss the lawsuit saying it involved state tax issues, which can only be decided in state courts.

The plates are sold for $25 extra and the fee, which funds pregnancy centers offering abortion alternatives, is similar to a tax, the judges wrote. As a result, it’s a state issue, the panel ruled.

A bill to create "Choose Choice" license plates failed in the Louisiana legislature in 2002.

Pro-abortion groups originally took the Choose Life plates to court and the 5th Circuit dismissed the case. They later filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana specialty plate system, angering other charity groups that rely on the plate proceeds for funds.

In January, the nation’s high court decided not take a case about South Carolina’s Choose Life plates. In that case, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plates violated the free speech rights of pro-abortion South Carolina residents, who don’t have a pro-abortion plate to purchase.

While the case has been in federal court, Louisiana residents could not purchase new plates, but could renew plates for ones they previously bought.

Organizations that perform or recommend abortion are not eligible to receive the funding from the Louisiana plates, which is the case in other states that have them. Lawmakers approved the plates in 1998.