[Marxism] Court allows state of Tenn. to push anti-abortion license plates

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Mar 17 19:25:53 MST 2006


'Choose Life' Plates Allowed in Tenn. 


Saturday March 18, 2006 1:31 AM 



AP Photo TNMH601 


By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II 


Associated Press Writer 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal appeals court Friday allowed Tennessee
to offer anti-abortion license plates bearing the message ``Choose
Life.'' 


A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Cincinnati overturned a lower-court ruling that said the tag illegally
promoted only one side of the abortion debate. 


``Although this exercise of government one-sidedness with respect to a
very contentious political issue may be ill-advised, we are unable to
conclude that the Tennessee statute contravenes the First Amendment,''
Judge John M. Rogers said in a 2-1 ruling. 


An anti-abortion group, Tennessee Right to Life, declared victory. 


``It's a validation of our position all along that the Legislature had
the authority to authorize a plate that favors normal childbirth over
the practice of abortion,'' said Brian Harris, the group's president. 


In a dissenting opinion, Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr. said the plates
should be banned because they amount to unconstitutional viewpoint
discrimination. 


Abortion-rights proponents complained the state does not offer those
with other political views a similar way to express them. An attempt to
create a ``Choose Choice'' tag failed in the Legislature in 2002. 


``We don't think it's in the state's best interest to be promoting such
a one-sided view,'' said Keri Adams, of Planned Parenthood of Middle and
East Tennessee, a plaintiff. The American Civil Liberties Union of
Tennessee also was involved in the case. 


Federal appeals courts have been divided over whether such license plate
programs are constitutional. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court let stand
a lower-court ruling that said similar South Carolina license plates
violated the First Amendment. 


Drivers will be able to pay an extra fee in Tennessee for the ``Choose
Life'' plate, and some of the proceeds will go to New Life Resources, an
anti-abortion group. 


Tennessee is the 13th state to offer ``Choose Life'' plates. The others
are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana,
Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Most
states donate proceeds to adoption groups, but Alabama, Hawaii, Maryland
and Montana donate at least some of the money to anti-abortion groups. 


Tennessee has more than 120 specialty plates, most of them saluting
uncontroversial subjects such as the Tennessee Titans football team, the
Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee Walking Horse. 


Gov. Phil Bredesen let the anti-abortion license plates measure become
law but declined to sign it, and he urged lawmakers to develop a new
approach to deciding which causes would benefit from the sale of
specialty plates




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