by Steven Ertelt
July 30, 2006
Albany, NY (LifeNews.com) — New York Gov. George Pataki has vetoed a bill that would have authorized a group of new specialty license plates there, including one commemorating the September 11 terrorist attacks. The governor blamed the veto on a lawsuit supporters of the Choose Life license plate filed after they were denied a specialty plate.
Pataki, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said he vetoed the bill because of a lawsuit filed by the Children First Foundation, a pro-adoption group, over the rejection of a Choose Life plate.
He indicated he disagreed that any group requesting a specialty plate should get one, according to the Times Union newspaper.
"While I do not believe that the Constitution compels a state to issue license plates with a message that responsible state officials in the exercise of their discretion believe to be inappropriate, it is important to establish uniform standards and criteria for approving any new custom license plate series," Pataki said in his veto message.
Elizabeth Rex, the president of the Children First Foundation, told LifeNews.com that Pataki’s veto was "beyond belief."
"What is even more unbelievable is that the Governor attempted to pin his outrageous veto of the 9/11 plate and 14 other important custom plates … on The Children First Foundation and our 5-year legal battle to get our pro-adoption ‘Choose Life’ license plate approved in New York," she said.
"The Governor’s outrageous veto and his equally outrageous ‘explanation’ should shock and disgust every American, especially New Yorkers," Rex added.
In March, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Rex’s group.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s second attempt to ban the phrase "Choose Life" from a pro-adoption specialty plate.
The Attorney General’s first defeat occurred in January 2005, when a federal judge ruled that The Children First Foundation (CFF) had sufficiently argued that its First Amendment rights would be violated.
Spitzer appealed the federal court ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with CFF.
The three judge panel agreed with CFF’s contention that Spitzer, who is pro-abortion, and state officials denied the Choose Life plate application "based on their disagreement with [the] life-affirming viewpoint expressed on the plate."
The court said the officials "engaged in viewpoint discrimination."
The state argued, in a written submission to the appeals court, that the Children First Foundation’s plate was rejected in order “to avoid any appearance of governmental support for either side in the divisive national abortion debate.”
Spitzer’s office came under fire last year when it claimed the Choose Life plates could lead to road rage.
New York already has 300 specialty plates but Pataki doesn’t want any more. He has instructed DMV Commissioner Nancy Naples to impose a moratorium on new plates until new guidelines can be issued to determine who should be able to get them.
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