'Choose Life' License Plates May Soon Come To NC
North Carolina may soon be issuing “Choose Life” license plates as the end of a four-year legal battle appears close. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to a federal appeals court Monday to reconsider in light of the court’s recent decision in a Texas case.
In the Texas case, the Supreme Court ruled the state can reject a proposal to put a Confederate flag on a specialty license plate because that counts as government speech. So the First Amendment doesn’t apply. State governments can control the content of those messages any way they want.
The State of North Carolina has long argued that’s why state lawmakers can offer a “Choose Life” license plate without offering ones with a “pro-choice” message. In 2011, state lawmakers approved the “Choose Life” specialty plate. They turned down several bills to create plates with slogans such as “Respect Choice.”
The ACLU sued contending the license plates are private speech and the state limits that speech by not allowing plates with both messages. The district court agreed, as did the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous decision.
The appeals court could modify its decision, ask the parties for additional information, or send the case back to the district court.