ACLU Loses "Choose Life" License Plate Appeal in Tennessee

18 03 2006

Via KnoxNews

Tennessee can sell license plates that say “Choose Life,” even though it doesn’t offer one with an abortion rights message, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee had sued over the specialty license plate approved by the Legislature in 2003 and won a ruling against the tag from a lower court that said it illegally promoted only one side of the abortion debate.

Stop The ACLU has an email from Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel

Today the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of ACLU of Tennessee v. Bredesen, upheld the Tennessee law that authorizes the production of a “Choose Life” license plate. Liberty Counsel filed a brief in support of the law. Liberty Counsel defended the first successful appellate court ruling involving the Florida “Choose Life” license plate in the case of Women’s Emergency Network v. Bush.

The Court noted that the “Choose Life” message was a “government-crafted message disseminated by private volunteers” who pay a specialty license plate fee. Tennessee law provides for numerous specialty license plates in which private groups can apply to have a specialty plate approved. In this case, the legislature, without the application of a private group, passed a law adding the “Choose Life” plate as an option. The Court rejected the ACLU’s argument that the government created a “forum” for expression in which the state would have to accept contradictory messages. The Court noted that when the government promotes a message, like “Register to Vote” or “Support our Troops,” it does not have to create the opposite message like, “Don’t Vote” or “Stop the War.” If it were otherwise, then government messages on postage stamps or billboards would be contradictory, chaotic and confusing.

In reaching its conclusion, the Court disagreed with a Fifth Circuit case that ruled the Tax Injunction Act provides that only state courts, not federal courts, may decide specialty license plate cases on the basis that they involve state taxes. The Court also disagreed with a Fourth Circuit case that struck down a South Carolina specialty plate.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: “The Court’s decision averted the hijacking of the “Choose Life” specialty plate. Had the ACLU been successful in striking down the “Choose Life” license plate, the result would have meant that government is never permitted to express its own message or promote valuable social policies. Every warning against smoking would be followed by a message endorsing cigarettes. The result would be absurd. The state of Tennessee’s choice to promote life over abortion is not only wise social policy – it is in complete harmony with the First Amendment.”

And the ACLU are up in arms about the decision. It’s ironic how the ACLU always seem to twist the First Amendment to defend how they believe instead of how the Constitution is written.

Suing a state government because that government did not promote a pro-choice tag is absurd. If the ACLU really thought about the process, they would not have embarrassed their organization. All it would really take is a pro-choice group to follow the necessary steps within the state of Tennessee to get a pro-choice license plate. Nothing complicated like a lawsuit. The trigger-happy ACLU is guilty once again of Ready. … SHOOT!! … Aim.

Other Pro-Life Tags: Swap Blog
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