US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday refused an emergency request to block Louisiana from issuing an anti-abortion license plate. The request, filed by the Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council for Jewish Women, said that allowing the license plate to be issued “was an unprecedented instance of legislative viewpoint discrimination,” according to United Press International. Known for his staunch anti-abortion stance, Scalia, who oversees the Fifth US Circuit that includes Louisiana, denied the request without comment.
In August, the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals rejected a request to reconsider its March decision to dismiss a challenge to Louisiana’s anti-choice license plates. The National Organization for Women (NOW) filed a lawsuit against the “Choose Life” plates in 2000, arguing that the Constitution prohibits public money from being spent on religious viewpoints. The plates, which are produced and distributed with taxpayer dollars, cost $25 more than regular license plates. The extra funds will be directed by an advisory council composed of representatives from religious and ultraconservative groups.
Legislatures in five other states have approved the license plates – cars in Florida, Hawaii and Mississippi can be seen displaying the anti-abortion message. Despite a lawsuit brought to the courts by the Florida chapter of NOW, Florida has sold more than 40,000 anti-abortion plates since production began in 1999. A lawsuit filed by the Planned Parenthood of South Carolina in September 2001 has upheld distribution in that state. Meanwhile, in Alabama, anti-abortion extremists bypassed the state legislature and instead had the state License Plate Oversight Committee approve the tags. However, they won’t be produced unless 1,000 paid orders are received by Nov. 30. Currently, 897 Alabama motorists have signed up for the plates.