NC appeals ruling on anti-abortion license plate - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

NC appeals ruling on anti-abortion license plate

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RALEIGH, NC (WBTV/AP) -

The state of North Carolina is appealing a federal judge's ruling that it can't offer anti-abortion license plates unless it also makes plates available for people who support abortion rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said Friday that North Carolina's decision to appeal a judge's ruling against a "Choose Life" license plate is "unfortunate."

"It's unfortunate that the state has chosen to prolong what is really a very clear-cut First Amendment issue," said Chris Brook, ACLU- North Carolina Legal Foundation Legal Director.

The state filed notice Friday that it's appealing the decision last month by U.S. District Court Judge James Fox, who said offering just the one license plate violates the First Amendment.

Last month, Judge Fox said the state cannot offer a plate with a viewpoint opposing abortion unless it provides drivers with the choice of picking a plate with the opposite opinion.

North Carolina has appealed Fox's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA.

"This case is ultimately about the right of North Carolinians of all political beliefs to have equal access to avenues for the free expression of ideas, and we look forward to making our arguments before the Court of Appeals," said Brook.

North Carolina began allowing drivers to sign up for the "Choose Life" plates last year, but did not issue any before the ACLU's lawsuit was filed.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued over the plates in September 2011.

Drivers wanting them were to pay an extra $25, with $15 of that going to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship - a private organization which funds crisis pregnancy centers.

During the 2011 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a "Choose Life" license plate.

"The legislature repeatedly refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom," the ACLU told WBTV.

Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, "Trust Women. Respect Choice," or simply "Respect Choice." The legislature rejected all six amendments.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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