Robert Knight

The ACLU has managed to block North Carolina from issuing license plates with a “Choose Life” message because the state legislature declined to also issue “Choose Death” plates.

U.S. District Judge James Fox didn’t put it that way in his Nov. 28 injunction, but he did agree with the ACLU that the absence of an opposing plate violates the First Amendment. The problem arose because lawmakers refused to authorize the “Respect Choice” plate that Planned

Parenthood wanted as part of its ongoing “Culture of Death” initiative.

The ruling prompts the question of whether every expression allowed on a license plate must be accompanied by a contrary view, sort of a Fairness Doctrine for motorists.

North Carolina offers an “In God We Trust” plate. Can’t you see the state ACLU director coming unglued while stuck in traffic behind that? The lawsuit practically writes itself with blather about “separation of church and state” and a lack of respect shown for Satan.

In Virginia, the DMV offers an AFL-CIO plate with the slogan, “Union Labor,” but drivers can’t purchase a plate for National Right to Work, whose headquarters are visible from the Beltway in northern Virginia. Maybe the Right to Work folks just have not gotten around to applying for theirs.

Virginians who like to ride bikes can purchase a “Bicycle Enthusiasts” version that says “Share the Road,” but there isn’t one for pedestrians. There’s a “Tobacco Heritage” plate, but none for the American Lung Association. There is a “Ducks Unlimited” plate without a counterpart saying “Too Many Ducks.” There’s even one for “Pearl Harbor Survivor,” but no plate for “Japanese Kamikaze Survivor,” admittedly a small market. But what an outrage.

Other states can be just as arbitrary as the Old Dominion, as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) employee Whitney Calk found out after leaving Virginia for Tennessee in September. DMV officials in the Volunteer State rejected her plate application for some lettering (ILVTOFU) that she insisted was about loving the soy product tofu but which officials said could be read another way by dirty-minded motorists. The same thing happened to a Colorado woman in 2009.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.