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Supreme Court Lets Stand Anti-Choice License Plates

The US Supreme Court declined to hear a case Monday that challenged the distribution of anti-choice license plates in Louisiana. Louisiana provided anti-choice license plates as one of many specialty tags the state offers, but did not offer pro-choice plates. The case, Keeler v. Stalder, was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2000 on behalf of Doreen Keeler, who had requested a pro-choice plate only to find that no such plate was manufactured. Nancy Northrup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, commented in a press release, “State lawmakers could have resolved this issue simply and fairly by offering pro-choice plates, but they specifically refused.”

All proceeds from the sale of the specialty plates – which cost approximately $50 – go to non-profit organizations that counsel pregnant women in an attempt to dissuade them from seeking abortions. Dozens of conservative politicians across the country have supported the anti-choice plate trend, including Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who commented, “It’s a pretty tag that says ÔChoose Life’ and it’s for adoption. If people want to politicize that, they’ll politicize anything,” according to Slate.com. There are currently 13 states selling similar anti-choice license plates.

However pro-choice motorists, such as Keeler, argue that without a corresponding pro-choice plate available politicians are violating their constituents’ first amendment rights. Said Northrup of the Supreme Court’s decision, “The Louisiana state legislature has now been given a green light to muzzle a specific group of people simply because certain elected officials disagree with their point of view.”

Sources:

Press release from the Center for Reproductive Rights 6/26/06; Slate 2/6/03; Clarion Herald 11/20/02

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