U.S. District Court Judge James Fox ruled late last week that North Carolina’s plan to offer a specialty “Choose Life” license plate to drivers without offering an alternative plate supporting reproductive freedom was unconstitutional.
Here’s more from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF):
“This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCLF. “The government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view. We are very pleased that the court agrees that such a one-sided scheme constituted viewpoint discrimination and violated the First Amendment. We would have made the exact same argument if the situation was reversed, and the state planned on issuing a pro-choice plate while not offering one expressing the opposite point of view.”
During the 2011 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate. However, the legislature repeatedly refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom. Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.” The legislature rejected all six amendments.
Judge Fox’s order can be read here.