A federal appeals court Friday allowed Tennessee to offer anti-abortion license plates bearing the message “Choose Life.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee previously won a ruling from a lower court 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 by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Fights over what can and cannot be emblazoned on Louisiana license plates date to 1999, when lawmakers easily approved the anti-abortion “Choose Life” plate, available for an extra $25, with the revenue dedicated to agencies that help pregnant women put their babies up for adoption.
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.