A Federal judge has ruled that it is unConstitutional for the State of North Carolina to issue pro-life license plates unless it also offers pro-abortion license plates.
In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox said that the lack of a pro-abortion choice means that the State should no longer issue its “Choose Life” plates to motorists who wish to advertise their anti-abortion views.
He concluded, “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.”
The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed against the State by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of residents seeking specialty license plates that supported the right to choose to have an abortion.
The “Choose Life” license plates were approved by the State’s legislature in 2011, but lawmakers rejected proposals for plates stating “Trust Women. Respect Choice” or “Respect Choice.”
“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.”
Brook also said that the ACLU would have taken the same position had the situation been reversed.