Judge Rules N.C. Anti-Abortion License Plates Unconstitutional
RALEIGH, N.C. — License plates that offer an anti-abortion message are unconstitutional unless the state offers similar plates supporting abortion rights, a federal judge has ruled in a North Carolina case.
Attorneys for the state of North Carolina are reviewing the Friday ruling from U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox, and haven’t decided whether or not to appeal, the Associated Press reports. It’s unclear how the ruling would affect similar license plates in other states, such as Missouri.
The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina on the grounds that they say the plates violate the First Amendment because the state did not offer a similar option to abortion rights supporters.
Only four states – Hawaii, Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia – currently offer pro-choice themed license plates.
According to the Associated Press, the North Carolina General Assembly approved 80 specialty plates – including the “Choose Life” plates, which cost $25 of which $15 was to go to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a group of non-profit pregnancy counseling centers.
The ruling on Friday made permanent a temporary injunction against the plates issued in November of 2011. In his ruling, Fox noted that on six different occasions, the North Carolina legislature refused to authorize a license plate with a pro-choice message.
“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 Brook.