Could Georgia's "Choose Life" license plate be in danger?

10:59 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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  • Georgia's "Choose Life" license plate
  • North Carolina's "Choose Life" license plate
  • Georgia State Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain)
  • Atlanta attorney Alan Begner

ATLANTA - You've probably seen the "Choose Life" license plate Georgia has offered for about six years.

But what could a North Carolina Federal Judge's ruling mean about its future?

U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox ruled that North Carolina can no longer make or sell its "Choose Life" specialty plate until it also offers a Pro Choice version.

"We had the same thing here in Georgia a few years ago where our Republican controlled legislature offered the same kind of bill," State Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) told 11 Alive News on Tuesday.

Georgia's General Assembly passed a bill in 2006 approving our state's "Choose Life" plate, but voted down Senator Butler's amendment to offer a Pro Choice version as well.

Now she's thinking about trying again.

"This is my first time hearing today of the ruling in North Carolina, but it is something that I can think about doing," Butler said.

At least 27 states offer Pro Choice license plates, but only about 4 offer a Pro Choice alternative.

Atlanta attorney Alan Begner, who specializes in such cases, calls the North Carolina judge's ruling a clear issue of free speech.

"Under classic First Amendment law, a government cannot deny the message based on the content of the message," he told 11 Alive.

Georgia Right to Life issued a statement saying it was "deeply discouraged by this latest example of judicial activism."

"The North Carolina legislature expressed the will of its people by only offering Pro Life license plates. The Georgia legislature has done the same. Those who agree with this ruling reveal their hypocrisy of only supporting choices that support their agenda," the statement added.

11 Alive left messages with the ACLU of Georgia to see if it might also challenge this state's law, but has gotten no reply so far.

It seems like Georgia will continue to offer only one version unless and until there is a challenge.

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