Federal appeals court rules to delay making 'Choose Life' plates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal appeals court has issued a decision to delay the state's production of its "Choose Life" specialty license plate.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee had asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the delay so it could seek a U.S. Supreme Court review of a ruling upholding the plate as constitutional.

The court last month overturned a lower-court ruling that said the tag illegally promoted only one side of the abortion debate.

"Tennessee must ensure that all residents can express their views equally," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, in a released statement Friday. "The state cannot be in the business of limiting some speech while allowing other speech."

State Rep. Glen Casada, the College Grove Republican who sponsored the legislation creating the plate, said he was disappointed by the court's ruling to halt production of the plates.

"The 6th Circuit has ruled," he said. "But I have no doubt that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in our favor. This is the most basic right of free speech."

The state Legislature twice rejected an amendment that would have authorized a "Pro-Choice" specialty plate.

Besides the ACLU, plaintiffs in the case include Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and three individuals.