On Monday, the US Supreme Court declined to consider whether states may offer license plates with anti-abortion messages. A lower court had ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Planned Parenthood of South Carolina, finding the state’s “Choose Life” plates to be a violation of First Amendment rights. The plates did not offer abortion rights supporters a similar forum to express their dissenting views, reports The Associated Press, which is a form of viewpoint discrimination.
One of 12 states to initiate the program, South Carolina’s 2001 state law offered the “Choose Life” plates for the biennial fee of 70 dollars. According to The Washington Times, the proceeds from the sale of the plates would go to “local crisis pregnancy programs,” with the law stipulating that funds could not be awarded to any facility or group “that provides, promotes or refers to abortion.”
South Carolina’s court filing states that lawmakers in 11 additional states have considered their implementation, reports The Associated Press. The Supreme Court’s deferment on this issue will continue to divide lower courts on whether such programs unconstitutionally restrict dissenting views. “America’s pro-choice majority deserves a fair chance to be heard in any venue,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt, in a statement released soon after the decision. “Free speech does not mean muzzling opposing points of view.”