Fourth Circuit to hear arguments in 'Choose Life' case
by Anna Oakes
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear arguments from the state of North Carolina and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation in a case challenging the constitutionality of a "Choose Life" license plate on Oct. 30, the ACLU-NCLF announced this week.
The Republican-led General Assembly authorized the issuance of the "Choose Life" license plate in 2011 along with a number of other specialty plates. The ACLU-NCLF then filed a U.S. District Court lawsuit in September 2011 "on behalf of North Carolinians seeking a specialty license plate that supports a woman's right to reproductive freedom."
In December 2012, U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox concluded that the state's decision to offer a "Choose Life" license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate "constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment."
The office of N.C. Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, Va., in January of this year.
"Choose Life" license plates are promoted by an organization called Choose Life America Inc. According to the organization's website, "Choose Life" license plates are available in more than two dozen states across the U.S., including every state in the South except North Carolina and West Virginia.
A U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in this case could have ramifications for the Fourth Circuit states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.