27 February 2003

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The ACLU is threatening to sue if the Governor signs into law the "Choose Life" license plate. The claim is that to put out this plate without a similar plate of the opposing viewpoint (Choose Death?) is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

It's an interesting take on the matter. I have vague memories of the Sons of the Confederacy sueing Virginia because the Commonwealth wouldn't give them a plate and winning. I've actually seen a couple of them; the Sons may be few in number nowadays but they are fervent. As I remember it the rule is that as long as the Commonwealth makes plates which express any viewpoint it cannot deny a particular viewpoint its own plate (although I think a 50 plate minimum can be imposed). Of course specialty plates are not going away (would you lobby your legislator to get rid of this plate?)

I think the ACLU is pursuing the wrong remedy here. The correct action to take would be to go to the legislature and ask for whatever tasteful pro-abortion plate they wish. I do not think they could be refused a plate which said something like "Virginians for Choice." If they were denied then they would have a true constitutional issue to take to court. Even then the remedy would not be to attack the "Choose Life" plate but to force the Commonwealth to offer the "Virginians for Choice" plate under the same conditions as the "Choose Life" plate. Here is a link to the "Choose Life" bill as passed. Note that the "CL" bill does not require a certain number of plates be ordered before shipping; therefore the "VfC" could not either. Thus those who wish to express that viewpoint could do it as soon as the bill passed.

On the other hand, should the Governor cave in to this threat and refuse to sign the "CL" plate into law he clearly leaves the Commonwealth open to a suit by those who want this viewpoint expressed on a license plate.

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