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Federal appeals court rules state’s ‘Choose Life’ license plate unconstitutional

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A federal court of appeals ruled Tuesday that North Carolina’s “Choose Life” license plate is unconstitutional because there is no alternative pro-choice option available.

NC Choose life plate
Photo: Fox News

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously ruled: “Issuing a ‘Choose Life’ specialty license plate while refusing to issue a pro-choice specialty license plate constitutes blatant viewpoint discrimination squarely at odds with the First Amendment,” according to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Lawmakers approved the “Choose Life” license plate in 2011, but rejected six amendments that offered plates for “reproductive freedom,” including plates that read “Trust Women” and “Respect Choice.”

For that reason, the appellate court upheld the lower court ruling, which found, “the State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment,” the statement read.

“Today’s ruling protects the right of North Carolinians of all political beliefs to have equal access to avenues for free speech,” Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, who argued the case in front of the Fourth Circuit, said in the release. “As the court reiterated today, 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. North Carolina’s one-sided license plate scheme constituted blatant viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”

“We would have made the exact same argument if the situation was reversed, and the state planned on issuing a pro-choice plate while not offering one expressing the opposite point of view,” Brooks said.

Read the full statement here.

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