by Steven Ertelt
March 9, 2006
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court has sided with a pro-adoption group that filed a lawsuit against state officials who denied it’s attempt to allow motorists in the state to purchase Choose Life license plates.
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."
"No one is above the law," explained Dr. Elizabeth Rex, President of The Children First Foundation. "This ruling is another great victory for freedom of speech and equal treatment under the law for all New Yorkers."
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.
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys Jeff Shafer and Brian Raum helped CFF with the case. They were pleased the decision did not grant qualified immunity to any of the defendants, including Governor George Pataki and Spitzer.
The New York State DMV has approved over 200 plates for organizations including labor unions, and religious organizations.
The "Choose Life" license plate originated in Florida and has been approved in 12 other states. More than 60,000 motorists have now raised over $5 million dollars to fund pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes.