November 21, 2008
Court orders Arizona to allow `Choose Life' license plates
A federal court has ruled that the Arizona License Plate Commission must approve an anti-abortion group's "Choose Life" specialty license plate.
The Arizona Life Coalition applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but the Arizona License Plate Commission, which oversees the requests, rejected its application.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Center for Arizona Policy filed a suit in September of 2003.
Pro-life groups shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," ADF senior counsel Gary McCaleb said.
Last January, the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the commission had violated the Arizona Life Coalition's First Amendment right to free speech by rejecting its application. The commission appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision, but the high court refused to hear the case.
In a decision issued Nov. 19, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt ordered the commission to convene by Jan. 23 and approved the license plates.
"Many other groups have been allowed to participate in the Arizona specialty plate program. The commission had no legitimate reason to selectively exclude this group," McCaleb said. "We're pleased that the plates will soon be available to the public."
The "Choose Life" license plates are available in at least 19 states, according to Choose Life, Inc., a Florida-based non-profit that waged a six-year legal battle to make Florida the first state to offer the plates.
South Carolina, which offers a "Choose Life" plate, will soon start making "I Believe" license plates that feature a cross and stained glass window. Those plates are already the subject of a legal challenge by Jewish and Hindu groups.