New Jersey Can Choose Life Plates
Special Report - December 15, 2010
In a major victory for proponents of “Choose Life” specialty licenses plates, New Jersey motorists now have the option of purchasing the pro-adoption license plates, after the State decided to end its six-year effort to block them. The state officially made the “Choose Life” plates available to motorists on December 3 for the price of $25 per platemaking New Jersey the 24th state in the nation where the license plates are available.
The battle in New Jersey to allow motorists to purchase “Choose Life” specialty plates began in 2003, when the Children’s First Foundation, a pro-adoption group, submitted an application to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to get the plates authorized. The commission rejected the application, arguing at first that the license plates were too “controversial,” and later claiming that they represented a form of “advocacy.” In 2004, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a lawsuit against the State on behalf of the Children’s First Foundation, aimed at getting the State to allow the sale of the “Choose Life” plates, but a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2008. ADF appealed that decision, and in April 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the dismissal and sent the case back to the lower courts. As a result of the State of New Jersey’s decision to authorize the sale of the “Choose Life” plates, ADF voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit against the state. In addition to New Jersey, ADF has been involved in a number of successful legal efforts to convince states to allow the sale of “Choose Life” license plates, including in Tennessee, Missouri and Arizona.
“Pro-adoption organizations should be allowed to express their message as part of a program where others are freely allowed to express theirs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeff Shafer, in a statement announcing the dismissal of the lawsuit, Children’s First Foundation v. Legreide. “The state of New Jersey has done the right thing in agreeing to honor The Children First Foundation’s free speech rights and allowing the ‘Choose Life’ plates, just as it allows many other groups’ plates that promote various causes.”
The news from New Jersey comes at an opportune time for North Carolina, which is the only state in the southeast that does not allow the purchase of the pro-life license plates, despite the fact that there are over 120 specialty plates currently sold in the state, all approved by the General Assembly. Pro-life advocates and policy makers in North Carolina have been engaged in their own battle for the past eight years to convince the leadership of the General Assembly to allow consideration of legislation that would give motorists the option of purchasing “Choose Life” specialty plates. With new leadership next session in the House and Senate, reintroducing the “Choose Life” specialty plates legislation is a top priority for pro-life advocates in the state, who have designated January 2011 as “Choose Life” License Plate Month.
Lawmakers Deny Citizens the Opportunity to Buy "Choose Life" Plates - FNC - Jul/Aug 2009
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