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Posted: 8:29 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, 2012
NORTH CAROLINA —
A federal judge has put the brakes on North Carolina's plans to offer an anti-abortion license plate. The plate's supporters said that their fight isn't over. In North Carolina, there are roughly 150 different specialized license plates to choose from, but what you won't find is one weighing in on abortion. Republicans in the legislature approved one that said "choose life" but blocked others that said "respect choice" and "trust women." "The pushers of abortion do not get to seize a word like 'choice' and say that that belongs to them," said Rep. Skip Stam, Republican House Majority Leader. Stam said lawmakers objected to the suggestions of the pro-choice plate. 'Trust women,' as if the people who make money off these women were more worthy of trust -- that just doesn't get it," said Stam. But without a pro-choice option for drivers, the American Civil Liberties Union sued, and a federal judge ruled that if the state doesn't allow both plates, then it can't offer either plate. "The government, on contentious political issues, is not allowed to tell one side of the debate to take a hike; that they can't participate," said Chris Brook, a legal director for ACLU. A few years ago, South Carolina has a similar "choose life" plate and lost a lawsuit on exactly the same grounds. "It was not unexpected that a district court judge would feel bound by the older precedents of his own circuit," said Stam. Stam is asking the attorney general to appeal the ruling. Roy Cooper's office said it is reviewing the decision and should decide whether to appeal in the next couple of days. On Monday, the Catholic bishops of Charlotte and Raleigh issued a joint statement calling the ruling a tremendous disappointment.
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