WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused today to consider appeals from
abortion-rights groups wanting to block states from issuing car license plates
bearing the message "Choose Life."
About a dozen states allow drivers to pay extra for the specialty car tags to
show the car owners' opposition to abortion.
Justices said they would not look at tag laws in Louisiana and Tennessee.
Abortion opponents contend they have a free-speech right to broadcast their
views on their car tags. Proposals to offer car owners an alternative "Choose
Choice" plate failed in both state Legislatures.
A federal judge ruled that Louisiana's system for issuing specialty plates is
unconstitutional because the Legislature decides who gets the tags and the
That decision was overturned by a federal appeals court panel, which found
that the challenge amounts to a tax dispute that belongs in state court. And by
an 8-8 vote, the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider
A federal judge had found that Tennessee's tag wrongly promoted only one side
of the abortion debate, but the decision was overturned by an appeals court.
Justices have refused in the past to deal with similar disputes. Last year,
the high court let stand a lower court ruling that said South Carolina's license
plates, which bear the slogan "Choose Life," violate the First Amendment because
abortion-rights supporters weren't given a similar forum to express their
The cases are Keeler
v. Stalder, 05-1222, New
Life Resources v. American Civil Liberties Union, 05-1483, and American
Civil Liberties Union v. Bredesen, 05-1389.