NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal appeals court today ruled Tennessee can sell license plates that promote "choose life," even though it doesn't offer one with an abortion rights message.
A three-judge panel on the Sixth U-S Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled in the appeal of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. The group had sued over the specialty license plate approved by the Legislature in 2003 on First Amendment grounds and won a ruling against the tag from a lower court.
In a 2-to-1 ruling this morning, the court concluded the one-sidedness on a contentious political issue may be ill-advised, but ruled the First Amendment doesn't prohibit it.
Extra fees motorists pay for the plates would go to New Life Resources -- an anti-abortion group.
The plates had stirred considerable debate. Governor Bredesen let the measure become law but declined to sign it. He also urged lawmakers to develop a new approach to deciding which causes would benefit from the sale of specialty plates.