U.S. Supreme Court Denies Freedom of Speech by Refusing to Hear “Choose Life Illinois” Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in Choose Life Illinois v. White, upholding a Seventh Circuit ruling that the Illinois system for approving specialty plates was not discriminatory.

The case was filed in 2004 after citizens had collected more than the requisite number of signatures, but were denied a “Choose Life” license plate.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, observed, “Ever-increasing numbers of pro-life Americans want to proudly display the ‘Choose Life’ message on their vehicles – as evidenced by the fact that 22 states now offer such plates. Illinois is unfairly censoring the freedom of speech of its citizens by not allowing them to obtain a plate with a life-affirming message.”

Mailee Smith, AUL Staff Counsel, noted, “Pro-life citizens in Illinois followed the rules in applying for a ‘Choose Life’ license plate, but were prohibited from obtaining the plate because the Illinois Secretary of State did not like its pro-life message. As the last defense for constitutional rights, the U.S. Supreme Court should have stepped in to correct the State’s clearly unconstitutional action.”

As in other states, the proceeds from the proposed “Choose Life” license plates would have gone to organizations such as pregnancy care centers that provide adoption counseling and referrals.

Americans United for Life filed an amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit on behalf of a large coalition of Illinois pregnancy care centers. That brief is available at http://www.aul.org/xm_client/client_documents/briefs/ChooseLifeILvWhite.pdf. However, that court refused to accept amicus briefs filed by pro-life organizations.


Chicago Tribune: Good choice by the high court: Political statements kept off Illinois license plates

Los Angeles Times: Illinois can steer clear of abortion debate, Supreme Court rules

LifeNews.com: Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling in Illinois Choose Life License Plate Case

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  • maitred

    From the Trib’s article: “Using the ‘free speech’ logic opens the door to state license plates celebrating the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis.”

    I’m pro-life, but he’s right. It does.

    Get a bumper sticker. Sell em even! Put ten thousand of them on your car!

    But make a 1st amendment claim to the Supreme Court? No, the Supreme Court has already ruled that that public property may have time and place restrictions placed on free speech, in numerous cases. A license plate is not a proper place for free speech, especially when you put a pro-life message ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE VEHICLE.

  • theshahids

    Do what I did- Write ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ with a sharpie across your license plate! Take that gub-ment!

  • plowshare

    Maitred, many states do have Choose Life license plates. Why let a purely hypothetical license plate extolling the Ku Klux Klan put an end to that?

    What’s wrong with “Choose Life”? It is no more political than “Choose Truth,” “Choose Justice,” or “Choose Charity”. What an irony, that litigants who claim to be “pro-choice” are so dead set against purely exhortative support for one of the two possible choices! The fact that none of them wants a license plate saying “Choose Abortion” also says something about “pro-choice”.