A federal judge has sided with Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit over North Carolina's “Choose Life” license plates, ruling that they are unconstitutional and thus forbidden. In his December 7 opinion, U.S. District Court Judge James Fox wrote that such a plate, “in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
Officials of Planned Parenthood in North Carolina were reportedly opposed to the plates because some of the funds from sales of the plates were slated to go to pro-life groups that help to save the lives of mothers and pre-born babies, something they found unacceptable.
Planned Parenthood's grievance was given voice through the ACLU of North Carolina, which filed the suit on behalf of the pro-abortion group. Referring to the pro-life license plates as a “scheme,” ACLU spokesman Chris Brook remarked that Fox's ruling was a “great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians.... 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.”
In 2011 North Carolina's General Assembly approved the creation of 80 specialty license plates, including the pro-life ones. The plates were to cost $25 each with $15 of that amount going to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a group of non-profit pregnancy counseling centers. The pro-life group was to collect applications for the license plates, with 300 requests needed for the state to move ahead with producing them. While a total of 369 applications came in, production of the plates was put on hold because of the suit, and the money was refunded.
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