ACLU Hails Federal Appeals Court Ruling Delaying Production of Tennessee’s Anti-Choice License Plate

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
April 21, 2006 12:00 am

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NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union today hailed a federal appeals court decision delaying Tennessee’s production of an anti-choice specialty license plate while the organization seeks U.S. Supreme Court review of a ruling upholding the plate as constitutional.

“Tennessee must ensure that all residents can express their views equally,” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “The state cannot be in the business of limiting some speech while allowing other speech.”

The legislature twice rejected an amendment that would have authorized a “Pro-Choice” specialty plate. The law in question makes a “Choose Life” license plate available to motorists for an annual fee of $35 over and above the basic cost of registering a car in the state. Fifty percent of all funds raised, after expenses, will go to a private anti-choice organization called New Life Resources.

In March, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the ACLU and ruled that the anti-choice plate did not violate free speech rights. Earlier this month, the ACLU announced that it would appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and also asked the federal appeals court to postpone Tennessee’s production of the plate while the appeal is under consideration.

“We are pleased that the court prevented the production of the plate while the case is under review,” said Brigitte Amiri, a Staff Attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with our position that by only allowing an anti-choice plate, Tennessee has effectively silenced a viewpoint it disagrees with.”

Plaintiffs in the case include the ACLU of Tennessee, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, Inc., and three individuals. Lawyers on the case include Julie Sternberg, Carrie Flaxman, and Amiri with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; Roger Evans of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Susan L. Kay, the ACLU of Tennessee Legal Committee Chair.

Today’s case is ACLU of Tennessee v. Bredesen, #03-1046. To learn more about the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

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