‘Choose Life’ license plates coming to New York
After seven years fighting off custom-made license plates with an anti-abortion-rights message, the state of New York was ordered by a federal judge to allow a nonprofit to order “Choose Life” plates, reports the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, Senior District Judge Neal P. McCurn ruled that the state had violated the free-speech rights of the anti-abortion-rights group Children First Foundation(CFF) by refusing their request for “Choose Life” plates. CFF originally applied for custom plates with the “Choose Life” logo in December 2001 and was denied by then- Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Raymond Martinez. According to court documents, “Choose Life” plates were also denied to the group in 1998; the reason given by then-DMV Commissioner Richard E. Jackson, Jr., was “the State of New York’s policy not to promote or display politically sensitive messages on its license plates due to the potential for ‘road rage.’”
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Choose-Life-plate.jpgFlorida's "Choose Life" license plate (Photo: kobrascorner.com)
Children First sued the state, and various officials, in 2004.
In his order, McCurn wrote the license-plate message constitutes as “private speech on government property,” but its restriction was found to be a violation of free speech.
“New York has run afoul of the First Amendment by giving the Commissioner unbridled discretion to engage in viewpoint discrimination,” McCurn wrote.
The state’s attorneys have 30 days to appeal the federal court’s decision.
According to CFF’s website, if the state finally approves their plates, the tax-deductible annual $25 membership renewal fee for each “Choose Life” plate will go “toward helping support every Pregnancy Resource Center, Maternity Home and non-profit Baby Safe Haven Program located within the Tri-State Area,” in addition to funding more than 200 “pro-life agencies” in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“Choose Life” plates are already available in New Jersey and Connecticut.