WILMINGTON, NC – U.S. District Judge James C. Fox granted a preliminary injunction this morning that will prevent North Carolina from producing a proposed “Choose Life” anti-choice license plate during an ongoing legal challenge from the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation. The ACLU-NCLF filed a lawsuit in September in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of North Carolinians seeking a specialty license plate that supports a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.
“We are extremely pleased that the court sided with fairness today,” said Katy Parker, Legal Director for the ACLU-NCLF. “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. We look forward to continuing our arguments in this case, and hope the court agrees that the First Amendment prohibits the blatant type of viewpoint discrimination the state has proposed through this one-sided license plate scheme.”
During this year’s legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate. However, the legislature repeatedly refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom. Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.” The legislature rejected all six amendments. As such, the lawsuit alleges that the State is engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.