RALEIGH — A federal appeals court says North Carolina can issue specialty vehicle license plates that express anti-abortion sentiment while refusing to also produce tags expressing pro-abortion rights views.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that North Carolina can issue "Choose Life" license plates. The General Assembly in 2011 passed legislation allowing the anti-abortion expression while rejecting requests to also issue vehicle tags saying "Respect Choice" or similar abortion-rights sentiments.
A three-judge panel decided 2-1 that the license plates amount to government speech, and that North Carolina officials are free to reject messages with which the state disagrees.
North Carolina native and appeals court Judge James Wynn dissented in the opinion.
The legal fight has blocked the state Division of Motor Vehicles from producing the "Choose Life" tags.