Illinois action blog

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Choose Life" License Plates Blocked

Kudos to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her staff for their work in putting an end to this debate. A federal appellate court found in November that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is NOT required to produce specialty license plates containing the phrase "Choose Life." This issue had been circling through the court system and the rightful conclusion was finally reached.

According to the
Center for Reproductive Rights, as of 2006, thirteen states allowed for the production of "Choose Life" license plates. Specialty license plates such as these require an added cost to customers who purchase them and the excess money raised by sales are used to help fund anti-choice groups. On top of that, such statements blur the line of separation between church and state by implying that the government is involving itself in religious matters or taking a position on the issue of abortion.

Read the full press release from the office of the Attorney General below:


Secretary of State Not Required to Issue Special “Choose Life” License Plates

Chicago ─ Attorney General Lisa Madigan successfully convinced a federal appellate court that Secretary of State Jesse White should not be compelled to issue a specialty license plate bearing the slogan “Choose Life.” In November, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that state officials are not violating the First Amendment by declining to issue specialty license plates relating to the subject of abortion.

In its ruling, the Seventh Circuit held that because the state has excluded the “entire subject” of abortion from its specialty license plate program, its decision to reject a “Choose Life” license plate is viewpoint neutral and, thus, permissible under the First Amendment. The Court found that the state’s decision to exclude the subject of abortion from license plates is based on the “reasonable rationale that messages on specialty license plates give the appearance of having the government’s endorsement, and Illinois does not wish to be perceived as endorsing any position on the subject of abortion.”

Choose Life, Inc. initially filed this lawsuit after the Secretary of State’s office denied its request to create the specialty plate. The District Court found in favor of Choose Life, Inc. and ordered the Secretary of State to begin producing the license plates. The Seventh Circuit overturned that ruling, making it clear that the Secretary of State is not required to do so.

Assistant Attorney General Richard Huszagh handled the case for Attorney General Madigan’s Civil Appeals Division.

Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood, choose life license plates, Lisa Madigan, Jesse White


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