Federal Judge Says North Carolina’s Choose Life License Plates are Unconstitutional

Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 06:04 pm

You remember last year your outrage over North Carolina’s “Choose Life” license plates (House Bill 289)? Cheer up. A federal judge just ruled them unconstitutional. A federal court of appeals judge ruled against a similar plate in South Carolina in 2004, but that never discourages the Kill Mothers/Shove Jesus Down Your Throat, crowd.

U.S. District Court Judge James Fox ruled (pdf) that, “The State’s offering a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice alternative constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”

D’oh! Makes you wonder how they could not have seen this coming.

But WRAL reports that, “twenty-nine states either already make “Choose Life” plates available or have approved such plates but have not manufactured them. But the plates have a mixed record when it comes to court challenges, with some judges ruling states can sell them and others siding with challengers who say the plates are unconstitutional.”

Maybe they thought they’d hit the lottery with this one. If so, they did not think this through. And to compound the problem for the Kill Mothers/Shove Jesus Down Your Throat, crowd, if they appeal the ruling, it goes before the same circuit court of appeals that struck down the South Carolina law.

But Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell), the author of HB 289, said, “Every case is different. They could rule differently, There’s a very good debate over whether it’s viewpoint discrimination.”

In fact, constitutionality is usually the furthest thing from their minds;  in this case, the law made sure that choice didn’t come into it. Ideas that would have amended the law for plates that said “Trust Women. Respect Choice” or “Respect Choice.” were quickly cast aside.

After all, Republicans do not trust women.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed suit in 2011 on behalf of those who do trust women and want a plate that supports choice. The ACLU-Uncle’s legal director, Chris Brook, said in response to the ruling, “This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinian’s, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom.”

It is also a victory for true religious freedom: Our freedom from their religion.

And of course, the state’s two Catholic bishops are upset: they said it was “a tremendous disappointment” that theocracy turns out to be unconstitutional, and that they hope the state appeals.

Maybe they didn’t read about what happened to South Carolina plates.

Maybe, just maybe, they didn’t read the U.S. Constitution. Put those Bibles down, gentlemen, and take a gander if you will.

No, prayers won’t make it go away and David Barton can’t make it say something different.

Gillespie, WRAL goes on to say, “said he plans to try again when the General Assembly reconvenes next year to get a pro-life license plate in North Carolina, but he said he’s opposed to a ‘Respect Choice’ plate.”

No surprise there. Republicans don’t trust women. And they certainly don’t want you to choose. After all, you’re not really “choosing life” when it’s the only choice allowed, are you?

Remember what the Church has always called choice: heresy.

So Gillespie says, “I’d be willing to sacrifice this before I’d be willing to vote for that. Personally, I couldn’t do it. My personal convictions on this are strong.”

Yeah. We get that.

It’s because of attitudes like that we have a Constitution in the first place.

Assuming Gillespie keeps his promise and actually succeeds in getting the state a pro-choice plate, and since North Carolina a portion of the proceeds from sales of the “Choose Life” plates go to a nonprofit that supports crisis pregnancy centers. You know, those places where they tell you God doesn’t want you to go to kill babies. You have to wonder where the money from pro-choice plates would go. Not Planned Parenthood, certainly! After all, the 2011 law prohibited funds from “be[ing] distributed to any agency, organization, business, or other entity that provides, promotes, counsels, or refers to abortion.”

Good gods above! You can’t even say abortion!

How ironic then that a federal judge aborted the plates.

I imagine proceeds from a pro-choice plate would go to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers too. No matter what, any organization that is going to offer women actual facts about pregnancy and abortion aren’t going to get any money.

This ruling is a tremendous victory. The First Amendment is meant to protect us from state-sponsored religion. Again and again, the forces of theocracy try to shove it down our throats anyway which narrows our choices to just one: what they say the Bible says and what they say their god wants. But their religious freedom does not trump my religious freedom or yours Not anywhere in the Constitution does it give them the right to choose for the rest of us.

So let’s throw the government out of our bedrooms, and please folks, let’s kick these retrogressive jackals to the curb. They’re messing with my Heathen Zen and I know they’re messing with yours too.


Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

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