A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday preventing the state from issuing "Choose Life" anti-abortion license plates while the new state law faces a legal challenge.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit on behalf of four "pro-choice automobile owners" who contend that the license plate constitutes state-sponsored discrimination. The organization is seeking an injunction to block the plate's issuance as it nears the required 300 applications. (More on the plates here.)
U.S. District Judge James C. Foxx issued the injunction from the bench this morning, according to the ACLU.
“We are extremely pleased that the court sided with fairness today,” said Katy Parker, the group's legal director. “This case is ultimately about free speech and equal treatment for all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on abortion. The state should not be allowed to use its authority to promote one side of a debate while denying the same opportunity to the other side.”
The law offers no alternative to express the opposite viewpoint. Six attempts to amend the legislation to include "Respect Choice" plates or "Trust Women. Respect Choice" plates failed.
A 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2004 struck a similar law in South Carolina. The court's jurisdiction includes North Carolina.
But state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, the bill's sponsor, was unfazed when the legal challenge was filed. He points to rulings in other states that endorse "Choose Life" plates.