License plates with special themes – colleges, civic groups, etc. – have been around for a long time, allowing drivers to proudly display their passion. Many organizations also rely on fees related to their associated tags to help offset operating expenses.
Such was supposed to be the case with North Carolina’s pro-life network of crisis pregnancy centers. These beacons of hope for women facing an unplanned pregnancy were hoping to use the proceeds from “Choose Life” tags to fund programs that give individuals an alternative to abortion.
In 2011, the state legislature approved the plates while denying a similar request from pro-abortion lobbyists. Despite the fact that more than half of all states offer such plate options, leftist litigators – spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union – sprang into action to overturn the vote.
ACLU attorney Chris Brook contended that the organization was not outraged due to the nature of the plate, but simply opposed the fact that those in favor of child murder were not also allowed to display their fetish in like manner.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in North Carolina agreed, ruling the pro-life plates unconstitutional in a ruling this week. The decision supported a federal judge’s previous ruling on the issue.
In a response to the verdict, Brook wrote that it “protects the right of North Carolinians of all political beliefs to have equal access to avenues for free speech.”
Realistically, however, many Americans identify the ruling as a bastardization of the First Amendment. Free speech means that individuals have the liberty to make their opinions known and, had the pro-abortion crowd been more effective in making their case to state legislators, they might have been successful in obtaining a morbid tag representing their views.
Instead, the demand was obviously too low to support such a plate, and lawmakers voted accordingly. As another example, the state offers an “Animal Lovers” tag, but no design for those who hate pets. There has been no public outcry despite the fact that both views are not being represented.
Should a deep blue state decide to celebrate dead babies on its license plates, it would be perfectly within the rights of legislators to do so. Forcing a predominantly conservative state to follow suit, however, should not be within the federal government’s purview.
–B. Christopher Agee
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