Supreme Court to Decide if Drivers Can Purchase Choose Life License Plates

National   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Nov 13, 2014   |   6:25PM   |   Charlotte, NC

In August, leaders in the North Carolina legislature petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review a decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that prohibited the state from issuing “Choose Life” license plates.

The district court decided in a 3-0 opinion, written by Judge James Wynn, that, “Chief amongst the evils the First Amendment prohibits are government ‘restrictions distinguishing among different speakers, allowing speech by some but not others. In this case, North Carolina seeks to do just that: privilege speech on one side of the hotly debated issue — reproductive choice — while silencing opposing voices.”

northcarolinaNow, on Friday, the case will be heard by the Supreme Court.Sen.-Elect Tillis has urged the high court to approve the plates, along with the Thomas More Society, a pro-family public interest law firm.

Currently, there are 29 states that offer choose life plates to drivers and the plates have brought in $21 million for pregnancy centers that promote adoption. In 2011, the plates were given final approval by the North Carolina legislature by a vote of 68-44. But immediately after the legislation passed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the plates citing that they infringed on free speech rights of drivers who want to express their support for abortion.

However, lawmakers struck down multiple proposals to add a “Respect Choice” license plate and the choose life license plate was one of many other specialty plate options the legislature approved.

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As LifeNews previously reported, Bobbie Meyer, the state director of Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship explained why North Carolina drivers should have the right to purchase choose life plates. She said, “North Carolina is the only state in the southeast that refuses to let its citizens purchase the choose life license plate. For eight years the legislation for the choose life plate has been denied a vote even though more than 130 other plates have been approved.”

She continued, “The choose life license plate has already raised over 12 million dollars in the states that allow them thereby helping mothers and their families. Here in NC there are 85 pregnancy care centers who last year saw over 46,000 women and children.”

Mike Meno, a spokesman for the North Carolina branch of ACLU explained why the license plates are “unconstitutional”. He said, “What we argued and what the Federal Courts have found is that when the Government creates an avenue of free expression for one side of a political issue, they cannot deny the right of citizens to express the opposite viewpoint.”

ADF Senior Counsel, David Cortman and North Carolina Right to Life President, Barbara Holt disagreed with the ACLU’s opinion on the issue. Cortman said, “As the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed as recently as 2009, the government ‘has the right to speak for itself…and to select the views that it wants to express.’”

Holt said, “Pro-life people worked hard to get this ‘Choose Life’ license plate. They will be the ones who will purchase them. The extra money they voluntarily pay for the plate will go toward encouraging adoption.”