State can't choose views

North Carolina pro-life license plates wrong to offer one side of debate

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Most folks know by now that this is an ardently pro-life page. We believe fetuses never grow into anything else other than little human beings, and that all innocent souls have an inviolable right to life.

Without the suspension of reason and logic, it’s unclear how one can reach any other conclusion. And we’ll never understand how the law can sanction anything else than the protection of unsullied human life.

It’s no secret that those who believe in the sanctity of human life would want to find ways in the law to protect it.

But being pro-life is also about being pro-education. We believe that the more people know about fetal development and abortion, the more likely they, too, will become pro-life.

So we appreciate that pro-lifers want to spread the message on state license plates. Particularly when you’re stopped in traffic, a dispatch on the back of a car can be worth a massive billboard. That’s why you see so many bumper stickers.

Yet, sometimes the most closely held principles run head-on into each other.

Such is the case with the pro-life license plates that North Carolina lawmakers made available to the public. A federal judge recently ruled the plates are unconstitutional because the state is, in effect, choosing to promote a single viewpoint – pro-life – over another: pro-choice.

As unrepentantly pro-life as this page is, we don’t have a problem with the ruling.

The reason: When it comes to the government, we sure as heck don’t want it regulating speech or picking winners or losers.

It’s a little unseemly to begin with – using state-issued plates to spread what are essentially political arguments. We’re much more comfortable with the school pride license plates.

But if states are going to allow messages
about abortion on their license plates, they can’t choose whose viewpoint is acceptable and whose is not.

“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 judge said.


The North Carolina legislature explicitly rejected pro-choice slogans for license plates when it approved the pro-life plate in 2011. That is, indeed, “viewpoint discrimination.”

The best solution might be to drop back and punt – and just decide not to allow license plates to be used as political placards. Motorists have plenty of other ways to speak their minds, as you’ve surely noticed.

But if a state is going to give someone a state-issued soapbox on an issue, the other side deserves one too.

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Techfan 01/07/13 - 05:01 am
Is Romney now on the AC Editorial Board?

"Let public decide 3/30/04"
" As a pro-life specialty license plate bill - "Choose Life" - has worked its way through Georgia's legislature with Gov. Sonny Perdue's active support, a South Carolina plate with the same message has been declared unconstitutional by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The three-judge federal panel unanimously held that the Carolina plate violated the First Amendment by giving anti-abortion advocates a forum to express their beliefs while denying pro-abortion advocates the same forum to display their beliefs.
Georgia laws are subject to review by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, not the 4th, so if the Georgia legislation becomes law it may be decided differently than South Carolina's law was - meaning the whole abortion license tag issue could wind up in the lap of the U.S. Supreme Court.
But you know what? The courts should butt out anyway.
The messages put on specialty license plates should be left entirely to the people and their legislators. If there is enough public support to make the production of messaged plates financially worthwhile, then the lawmakers should allow it. If not, then they shouldn't allow it."

Jane18 01/07/13 - 05:10 am
Stolen Name

Someone please check out the first commenter...........I believe our leftie friend has been taken over by a rightie!

Techfan 01/07/13 - 05:52 am
Just pointing out that the AC

Just pointing out that the AC has taken both sides of the isssue, à la Mittens.

Riverman1 01/07/13 - 06:09 am
Yeah, license tags should be

Yeah, license tags should be about fruits, birds or sunshine.

scoobynews 01/07/13 - 06:16 am
After giving up a speciality

After giving up a speciality tag this year, I think if you want to pay the extra $35 then you should have the choice of whatever you want. I personally got tired of the state hiking up the price this year and figured it was no longer worth the now extra $35!! Just another way big brother is suckering people out of cash.

bubbasauce 01/07/13 - 11:54 pm
Dichotomy, you need to run

Dichotomy, you need to run for President.! Well let's start with Mayor of Augusta first. This place needs all the help it can get! Amen to everything you said in your post.

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