North Carolina Judge Finds Pro-LIfe Plate To Be Unconstitutional

untitled-174In an important ruling today, U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox ruled that North Carolina is violating the Constitution by issuing pro-life license plates without issuing a pro-choice license plate. We have discussed this contradiction below and I believe Fox is absolutely correct on the issue.

Fox found that “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.”

While the legislature approved the “Choose Life” plate in 2011, it repeatedly refused requests for pro-choice plates reading “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.”

It is clear that these plates constitute a form of speech covered by the first amendment and the denial of the alternative plates shows the regulation of the content of such speech. While government speech is not subject to scrutiny under the Free Speech Clause, Pleasant Grove City, Utah v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460, 467-68 (2009), government regulation of private speech is subject to the Free Speech Clause and must be content neutral. The decision this week follows precedent laid down by the Fourth Circuit in Planned Parenthood v. Rose, 361 F.3d 786 (4th Cir. 2003). In that case, the court found that “both the State and the individual vehicle owner are speaking” in such license plate messages.

What most disturbs me is that North Carolina schools are struggling and citizens are in desperate need of social services in this economic crisis. Yet, the legislature is still triggering these expensive litigation fights by trying to find ways of expressing religious views while silencing alternative views. It shows not only a lack of understanding of our Constitution as citizens but a lack of responsibility as legislators.

Here is the opinion of Judge Fox

Source: FOX8

56 thoughts on “North Carolina Judge Finds Pro-LIfe Plate To Be Unconstitutional

  1. I’m happy to say Virginia has had a “pro-choice” license plate since then-governor (now US Senator-elect) Tim Kaine signed the bill in 2009. (Disclaimer: I supported Tim). Governor Bob McDonnell also signed a similar bill in 2010 when Planned Parenthood asked for a “Trust Women/Respect Choice” plate. That’s interesting in that McDonnell at first supported then decried a bill in the last session to require women to undergo invasive transvaginal ulrtasounds prior to abortions. Seems our current governor feels strongly both ways about women’s reproductive rights.

  2. The Virginia ‘compromise’ did not come about graciously or without a struggle. To quote from Wikipedia “The Virginia Legislature did not favor adding pro-choice plates, but had little choice after the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia allowing pro-life plates meant the plates constituted a public forum for speech. To offer a plate espousing one viewpoint while not allowing an equally popular opposing viewpoint was therefore ruled unconstitutional.”

    If Ken Coocoonelli (sic) had his way, we’d still be fighting this one.

  3. I think bumper stickers are the right place for political messages, not license plates.

    I support life. I support the life of the pregnant woman who sometimes has difficult medical decisions to make. I support the life of the miscreant who should spend the rest of his/her life locked away from society (no death penalty). I support the life of the mentally ill who live on the street b/c there is no facility available for the indigent mentally ill. I support the life of the child living in poverty who needs better food, home, and hope.

    “Pro-life” has been promoted as the better option when it too often can lead to the death of a woman and sometimes, the mother of other children. Taken to the extremes it will lean to the deaths of more women who, out of desperation, choose unsafe abortions or more unwanted babies being abandoned in unsafe conditions. It’s part of history that shouldn’t be repeated.

  4. “What most disturbs me is that North Carolina schools are struggling and citizens are in desperate need of social services in this economic crisis. Yet, the legislature is still triggering these expensive litigation fights by trying to find ways of expressing religious views while silencing alternative views. It shows not only a lack of understanding of our Constitution as citizens but a lack of responsibility as legislators.”

    Why bother with substance when pandering can get you elected and is a proven method. Good court decision, religious viewpoints have no place on materials issued by a state.

  5. Of all the disgusting knee-jerk phrases the reichwingnuts have come up with, “pro-life” is one of the dumbest. If you talk with them (or try to), you’ll find they are virtually all for the death of people via war, capital punishment, etc.

    They are, however anti-choice when it comes to women controlling their own reproductive choices, and pro-controlling women’s minds and bodies.

    Someone on another blog calls them “forced birthers,” which is an apt description. Protect the fetus at all costs, no matter what kind of harassment they put a woman through…, but once the child is born, the woman’s on her own because then they don’t want to let her have any social services or job training or affordable child care or medical care for her and her child so she can get back in the job market.

    Such compassion…. (/snark)

  6. DonS:

    “If Ken Coocoonelli (sic) had his way, we’d still be fighting this one.”

    ***************************

    You are exactly right. That’s why Ken Cuccinelli has a “women” problem in his bid for governor. Look, when current Va. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling won’t endorse another Republican you know the other Republican has a problem.

  7. rafflaw:

    “Are you suggesting that Governor McDonnell is wishy washy or just confused?”

    **************************

    Yep.

  8. I want a plate that says: Thou Shalt Not Kill– No Exceptions for Y’all.
    with a tag line under that: End The Death Penalty in NC

  9. Milo Alan Fabian 1, December 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    So, the State should also issue a Pro-Death plate?
    ========================================
    No, a pro-choice plate.

    That is because, as you know perfesser Akin informed us that magic teflon vagina juice kicks in during legitimate rapes, so choice is not needed then.

  10. I am from Raleigh NC and not surprised. They should have had several pro-life motivated murders by this time. Nice people if you are made using the same cookie-cutter. Opinions? Go to church to find out.
    ——————-
    pete,
    there we have the dilemma again. if possible they will avoid the issue.
    ——————————–

    BettyKath,

    “I support the life of the mentally ill who live on the street b/c there is no facility available for the indigent mentally ill.”

    Me too. Talked with another guest at a dinner last Safurday. He works in ER for psych as a diagnosing psychiatrist. He remits them for trearment, but the departments don’t want patients. Too much to do!!!

    This confirms 20 year old data where the average workload of a treatment psychologist was 5 patients a week, one hour each..
    Psych care is not working here in Sweden.

  11. Mespo, your current governor feels strongly both ways about anything that looks like it could provide or deprive him of votes.

  12. “What most disturbs me is that North Carolina schools are struggling and citizens are in desperate need of social services in this economic crisis. Yet, the legislature is still triggering these expensive litigation fights by trying to find ways of expressing religious views while silencing alternative views. It shows not only a lack of understanding of our Constitution as citizens but a lack of responsibility as legislators.”-JT

    The uptick in legislation like this has come on the heels of the GOP gaining control of the NC House and Senate in 2010 for the first times in over 100 years. This nonsense is happening on small scales in districts all over too.

    Where I live, our House Rep has begun a war to seize the water rights and ownership of our reservoir and water infrastructure for the State. Guess what. He’s a teabagger. Despite the overwhelming ballot referendum against the seizure(87% opposed) the State legislature has moved forward. They offered us compensation(minimal), but threatened if we don’t comply they have the authority to seize for zero compensation. Nothing like a representative who’s last priority is actual representation of the constituents to make ya love gov’t in action.

  13. It really doesn’t take much a lot of understanding of American law or the Constitution to know this plate in un-Constitutional. The fact is that the state permits its use. Whether approval came through a legislative or bureaucratic process, it had to pass through several people to receive final acceptance of the design of the plate. The fact that it went through that and came out the other end without someone killing the idea because of onstitutionality demonstrates a clear contempt for their state’s and our national laws, traditions and Constitution and a preference for their holy book as law.

  14. How about going back to the idea of license plates as being the means to identify a vehicle. Oh wait, it is a potential revenue source, for the state coffers and more importantly to some, election campaigns.

    And what Rich said.

  15. The Bill of Rights should only be used as they were originally intended, to protect us from the federal government. I think it is a mistake to use the federal Constitution to protect us from the states. Better to fight these issues out locally. The problem with federalism is that you create a behemoth all powerful federal government that no one can protect us from.

  16. What they could do in that State where The People are guilty of kllling people under the sham of the word “execution” which is preceded by a prayer from a ten dollar a day preacher who dont know nuthin bout birhin babies, all in violation of the Sixth Commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill which aint got no exceptions written in stone that says “Y’all Can”, is give convicted humans sentenced to death a chioce. Sentence them to life in prison, which is sort of Pro Life, but allow them the option of physician assisted suicide. That way they can satisfy sinners who are Pro Life and sinners who are Pro Choice. Except that the People of The State of North Carolina are gonna have to answer for the statute which imposes DEATH when their time comes before Saint Peter. Those that claim that they never voted in any election in their lifetimes for any state legislative member who might have passed a death penalty act, or those that claim that they never sat on a jury that imposed the death sentence, will not get off the hook. No, when their time comes Saint Peter will likely be playing golf and have a stand-in that day at the Pearly Gates and his name will likely be Captain Hook.

  17. When I went through my Judgment Day hearing I had come from Nuremburg, Germany where they have outlawed the death penalty for outlaws, and it was determined that I had been a good human so they let me come back in this life, at my Pro Choice, as a dog. Thats my story and I am stickin to it.

  18. And, as a Dog Pro, I am Pro Choice, which means that I usually only go to professionals when it comes to things like sex or golf.

  19. I remember Ft. Bragg, N.C. when you take manchester road west and look at the first DZ on the left you have …
    THE PROPHECY: THE PROPHET SHALL BE CAST INTO THE GROUND.
    died and brought MYSELF back. so the DZ is the first HOLY site that is confirmed.

    yup! been to commo, jump, shooting, ranger,and several other schools. some not listed.

    then there was the little drummer boy. a song of promise that always brings tears. because at the end of the song HE smiled.

    but! you are seeing the things that must be done. they require that all congressmen get told about GOD on this site. if you live in a different country then write your respective presidents as well telling the same, with every person also writing the united nations saying that the united nations must tell every respective president and countryman.

    buddha had somethings rite. buddha was spiritual. which I had to learn just like everyone does.
    ==========================
    ACTS 21 is written as it happened, and it is fricking nasty. it is on “a black pope blog being or nothingness”.
    with brewer, and ‘nough terd both were written emails from MYSELF.

    and mr. mueller I want to talk to you in person. I got you to the 21st like wrote. right down to sarah palins mouth and the retard being born and called a blessed child after JESUS was announced in 88.

  20. When I was doing surveillance and having to run license plates I hated all these different type plates. You can’t keep up w/ them! Just a way for the state to raise more revenue. Who in their right mind would spend more for a license plate than they needed to pay. Do away w/ ALL these horseshit issue plates.

  21. While I agree with Prof. Turley on the Constitutional issue, this by Nick S “Do away w/ ALL these horseshit issue plates” is the best response here. The plates are to be able to identify a vehicle, by state and number. Right now my state has something like 25 different configurations, add that to adjoining states and I have little chance of recognizing the state those plates belong to while catching only a few numbers on the plate.

    As for the abortion issue, I’m pro-life while for allowing abortion.

  22. “this by Nick S “Do away w/ ALL these horseshit issue plates” is the best response here.”

    Ariel said it and I also agree. It is something that has been on my mind for years. The purpose of a license plate is to allow the vehicle to be identified as being registered by a certain person. One would presume that is to make the job of police easier. I would think it makes it harder.

  23. Many years ago, I remember reading a news article about a fellow who had the police come to his home and arrest him for several thousand outstanding tickets, most of them parking violations. When he was brought before the judge, the truth came out. His custom license plate read, “NONE.”

    When the police issued tickets, if the car was missing a plate, they wrote “None” in the space for the plate number.

  24. Do away w/ ALL these horseshit issue plates. -Nick S.

    Yep. And the plates should be fully exposed, allowing one to see the name of the state, county and any other identifying info.

  25. Well folks thanks much. And MikeS you’re correct, cops hate these plates and as you and Ariel and ap said, it’s hard to determine the state often times. For me it was just a pain in the ass, for cops it can be life/death. Amber Alerts comes to mind.

  26. OS

    You remind me of a time when I drove up to check on a man who’s motorcycle had broken down on the side of the road. I told the dispatcher I was contacting a disabled motorcycle and read the plate to her before I got out of the car.

    As I talked with the driver, who was from out of state as was the M/C’s plate, the dispatcher gave out our code word for a stolen vehicle. I had her confirm the stolen report from the agency in that state and she later said it was confirmed. The registration on the plate did not match the driver’s name. He stated the motorcycle was his. He did not have the registration.

    The man’s demeanor was such that there was no indication whatever that he was deceptive or doing anything out of the ordinary, and I believed something was wrong and this was not the usual stolen vehicle situation.

    I called up the dispatcher on my cell phone and prodded further. I asked her to confirm the make and model and it came back to a car, not a motorcycle in that state. I later found out the dispatcher did not enter the fact that it was a motorcycle when making the query into NLETS and NCIC came back with the stolen match. The dispatcher did not notice the vehicle that was stolen was a car and not a M/C that I had told her earlier. I could see this man getting hooked up by some officers who jumped to conclusions too quickly.

    It turns out that state is one where the exact same license plate number can be issued for two vehicles of different types. I had another case where I went to write a handicapped parking ticket to a pickup and it came back to a Chevy Monte Carlo, again because Pickup Truck was not specified and the system defaults to passenger car unless told otherwise. That was a Montana plate.

    One would think that with the billions of possible number combinations possible in plates, states would avoid all this possible confusion and have unique plates for any vehicle. But then again that would make sense.

  27. Mike and Nick.

    You are correct it is a big pain to have to decipher these plates especially at distances.

    One reason is typically there are two very small letters, one on top of the other next to several numbers. Most people don’t see the small letters (in the example picture above they are the C/L ) It can also be at times hard for someone not in that state to know if a letter on the plate is part of the registration number or not. Our university of washington plate here has a large purple W on it. Many people might think that is part of the registration number but it isn’t, it’s just a graphic. The Masonic Lodge one has a G in the middle of the logo.

    Look at all the ones here in just one state

    http://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/specialdesign.html

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  30. “U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox ruled that North Carolina is violating the Constitution by issuing pro-life license plates without issuing a pro-choice license plate. We have discussed this contradiction below and I believe Fox is absolutely correct on the issue.

    “Fox found that “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.”

    “While the legislature approved the “Choose Life” plate in 2011, it repeatedly refused requests for pro-choice plates reading “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.”

    Rubbish. The opposite to “Choose Life” is not “Respect Choice.” Its opposite is “Choose Death.”

  31. Ariel: “As for the abortion issue, I’m pro-life while for allowing abortion.”

    Yeah. As for the rape issue, I’m for chastity while for allowing rape. Choice, you know. Oh? The rape victim does not consent to be raped? So what? The abortion victim does not consent to be murdered, either.

  32. Mike Spindell: “The purpose of a license plate is to allow the vehicle to be identified as being registered by a certain person.”

    The chief purpose of a [registration] plate is to show that the tax has been paid. Many times as many citations are written for not paying the tax than stolen cars are identified or possible criminal use of a car is identified.

  33. AI,
    You are logic and semantically challenged. I agree with Mike and raff. You will just have to forgive us if we aren’t buying what you are selling. How about this? Change that pro-life plate to “Forced Birth.”

    One thing I have found puzzling about the so-called ‘pro-life’ crowd. They support the woman being forced to give birth but then they lose interest. We are treated to the sight of children’s health care slashed in the interest of “balancing the budget.” Lower taxes are a lot more important than neonatal care, Head Start and nutrition programs. The US currently ranks 41st in child mortality. In the past 20 years the US slipped from 28th to 41st in child mortality. We are tied in the 41st spot with Qatar, Croatia, and the United Arab Emirates.

    Wonder why that is?

  34. OS,
    Al doesn’t want to admit that the so-called pro-life crowd is pro-zygote and then once the baby is born, he or she has to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, unless they are born into an entitled family, of course. They want small government except when it comes to women’s bodies.

  35. As usual, persons who cannot support their positions logically and knowledgeably resort to personal attacks and insults. Your statements have no substance.
    “They support the woman being forced to give birth but then they lose interest.”
    Birth is a natural process. Any “forcing” of birth is by nature, hormones, biological operations, not by “Pro-Lifers.”
    “Lose interest?” Just another baseless, ignorant (appearing, though I doubt you really are) blanket accusation. Certainly SOME “Pro-Lifers” lose interest, but apparently you look the other way when passing a Pregnancy Support Center, adoption agency, unwed mothers’ home, and the like, few of which are operated or supported by disciples of Margaret Sanger, and which do not commonly have parades tooting their horns, but quietly go about their work. Real “Pro-Lifers” raise their children instead of having them shredded or their dead bodies and parts sold to “science” labs.
    Government “health care” is founded on violence as it is funded by taxation. “You WILL “contribute” or YOU WILL BE SHOT!!” Taxes should rightfully be spent only on actual governing, not on social programs.

  36. Mike Spindell, the same as gave you a right to impose your religious/philosophical views on me, and on unborn human beings. They are denied any say.
    All laws impose someone’s religious/philosophical opinions on everyone they impact. All anyone needs to impose his ideas on others via law is a sufficient number of gunmen who will obey him. In a republic that “one” is supposed to be a body of legislators and judges to render their legal opinions.

  37. Rafflaw, One of the chief duties of government is to protect those who are unable to protect themselves from being murdered.
    Parents are customarily supposed to raise up the children they produce.
    What is “entitled?” Entitled to the produce of the labor of others without any trade? Gov’t. “welfare?”

  38. Al,

    The difference re imposition of rights is that your religious views define a human being incorrectly. Life begins at the first breath. However, phony pro-life people such as you want it your way and thus have no respect for the choice of the mother. The reality is that your phony piety masks a resentment of woman’s sexuslity and a culture of Patriarchy. The proof of this is the opposition to birth control espoused by many of your breathren. As is the fact that none of you care for the fate of the child or mother after birth. You are merely religious hypocrites who hate women. Probably because you’re insecure in uour own sexualty.

  39. AI:
    You are using a false equivalence fallacy. The false equivalence is equating a grown, self-aware human being with a collection of cells with less self awareness than lichen growing on a rock. To claim anything else is self-delusional propaganda. Until the fetus is developed enough to live and thrive on its own outside the womb, it is, quite literally, a parasite growing inside the woman’s body. She is the host for what is, quite literally, a tumor that with any luck, can become a human one day. When talking with some of your ilk, I learned that even an anencephalic fetus should be forced to come to term and have a “chance at life,” which is patently BS.

    Save your rigid authoritarian version of the American Taliban views for those you can influence. As I wrote last night, you are going to have a hard time trying to impose your 12th century views on the folks who inhabit blogs like this.

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