Judge: pro-life tags violate First Amendment - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Federal court rules pro-life license plates in NC unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court ruled that "Choose Life" license plates to be offered in North Carolina violate the First Amendment. (Source: Choose Life/CNN) A U.S. District Court ruled that "Choose Life" license plates to be offered in North Carolina violate the First Amendment. (Source: Choose Life/CNN)

(RNN) - A federal judge has ruled that North Carolina's planned "Choose Life" license plate is unconstitutional.

The U.S. district court in Raleigh, NC decided Friday that offering a license plate promoting pro-life views is unconstitutional because  the state does not offer an alternative tag that supports "reproductive freedom" and a woman's right to choose.

"The State's offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment," U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox ruled.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation led the suit to block the plates, saying that it filed the suit to protect North Carolina residents "seeking a specialty license plate that supports a woman's right to reproductive freedom."

ACLU officials cited the North Carolina General Assembly's rejection of several proposed plates promoting pro choice views. State representatives filed six amendments to the bill authorizing the "Choose Life" license plates that would provide an alternative, however all of them failed.

Proposed plates offered in the amendments included tags saying either "Trust Women. Respect Choice," or "Respect Choice."

The lawsuit, filed in September 2011, received a preliminary injunction in November 2011 to temporarily block the production of the tags until a final decision could be reach.

"This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom," said ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brooks in a statement. "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."

Brooks added that his organization would have taken the same action of the state would have only offered license plates promoting reproductive freedom.

State Representative Mitch Gillespie introduced the bill supporting the license plates in 2011, however his office could not be reached for comment. 

According to WRAL-TV, Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge and Charlotte, NC Bishop Peter Jugis issued a joint statement Monday saying the ruling was "a tremendous disappointment."

"We are deeply saddened that North Carolina cannot join many other states that allow their citizens to display the 'Choose Life' plates," read the statement. "We support the effort to encourage the Attorney General of our state to appeal this decision."

"Choose Life" license plates are currently available in 27 states.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Wiggins firefighters rescue dogs from house fire

    Wiggins firefighters rescue dogs from house fire

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 8:35 PM EST2018-01-24 01:35:40 GMT
    Firefighters were able to rescue 2 dogs from the house fire (Photo source: Wiggins Fire Department)Firefighters were able to rescue 2 dogs from the house fire (Photo source: Wiggins Fire Department)

    The Wiggins Fire Department rescued two dogs from a house fire Tuesday. At around 3 p.m. Wiggins firefighters responded to heavy smoke and fire coming from a large, one-story house. 

    More >>

    The Wiggins Fire Department rescued two dogs from a house fire Tuesday. At around 3 p.m. Wiggins firefighters responded to heavy smoke and fire coming from a large, one-story house. 

    More >>
  • Police chief speaks about Gulfport officer injured in crash

    Police chief speaks about Gulfport officer injured in crash

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 6:30 PM EST2018-01-23 23:30:10 GMT
    Gulfport Police Officer Luis Garcia (Source: Gulfport Police Dept)Gulfport Police Officer Luis Garcia (Source: Gulfport Police Dept)

    Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania spoke about Officer Luis Garcia's sense of humor and resiliency Tuesday afternoon while discussing the police chase that put the officer in the hospital.

    More >>

    Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania spoke about Officer Luis Garcia's sense of humor and resiliency Tuesday afternoon while discussing the police chase that put the officer in the hospital.

    More >>
  • Multiple fires reported in South Mississippi

    Multiple fires reported in South Mississippi

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 6:29 PM EST2018-01-23 23:29:42 GMT
    Firefighters battled a large grass fire in Jackson County Tuesday afternoon. (Source: George Dixon)Firefighters battled a large grass fire in Jackson County Tuesday afternoon. (Source: George Dixon)

    Right now, first responders from multiple agencies in South Mississippi are responding to numerous fires. 

    More >>

    Right now, first responders from multiple agencies in South Mississippi are responding to numerous fires. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly