WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina(AP) - A federal judge has ruled a North Carolina plan to offer license plates supporting the pro-life movement unconstitutional, saying the state cannot issue the plates without offering a similar product for the opposing viewpoint.
A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Attorney General's Office told The Associated Press Monday the state hasn't decided whether to appeal the decision from U.S. District Court Judge James Fox. His order from Friday follows the one he issued more than a year that temporarily blocked North Carolina from offering the plates.
Fox said in his judgement that the state's plan violates the First Amendment. The proposed license plate featured two children with the words "Choose Life" printed above them.
"The State's offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment," he said according to The Associated Press.
A spokesman for The ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, which sued over the plates in September 2011, hailed Fox's ruling.
"This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom," said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU-NCLF.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the creation of the pro-life plate, during the 2011 legislative session.
However, the legislature rejected six separate amendments that would have authorized a license plate supporting the pro-choice movement. The proposed plates featured phrases such as "Trust Women. Respect Choice," or simply "Respect Choice".
Republican Rep. Mitch Gillespie of McDowell County sponsored the bill and tells The Associated Press he'll encourage the attorney general to appeal the decision.