Constitutionality of "Choose Life" License Plates Upheld
Special Report - October 7, 2008
After a six year battle, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on Monday, October 6 protecting the constitutionality of life-affirming speech in the form of “Choose Life” license plates. The Arizona Life Coalition, which meets the statutory requirements of a non-profit in Arizona, submitted an application to the Arizona License Plate Commission in 2002 for the yellow “Choose Life” specialty license plates. Their application was denied in 2003 without any comment on where or why the application did not meet statutory requirements. Life Coalition filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Arizona License Plate Commission for a violation of First Amendment free speech and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights. The District Court found for the License Plate Commission defendants. Upon appeal, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling in favor of the Life Coalition. The decision required the License Plate Commission to move forward with an approval of the “Choose Life” plates. Because the Court agreed that Life Coalition’s First Amendment right to free speech had been violated, it did not consider the equal protection argument. According to the Court, “messages conveyed through special organization plates…represent primarily private speech” and so deserve constitutional protection under the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court’s decision to not hear an appeal of the case automatically upholds the ruling of the Ninth Circuit in favor of Life Coalition.
The Arizona Life Coalition is currently compiling a list of Arizona residents interested in obtaining the new “Choose Life” license plates. At least 200 people must commit to purchase the plates before the State will begin production. The plates cost an additional $25 per year $8 goes to the State and $17 is donated to the Arizona Life Coalition.
“The Supreme Court has made the right decision in protecting the right of citizens to speak out in favor of the sanctity of human life by whatever means are available, including these license plates,” said Jere Royall, director of community impact at the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.