Thursday, July 10, 2003

A Free Speech Decision

From the Washington Post:
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge on Tuesday blocked Louisiana from issuing specialty license plates, dealing a victory to abortion-rights activists who challenged the state's decision to allow "Choose Life" plates.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval ruled that Louisiana's system for specialty plates violates the First Amendment because it allows the anti-abortion plates but does not offer one for the opposing view.

"If the state built a convention hall for speech and then only allowed people to speak with whom they agreed with their message, the state's actions would be in contravention of the First Amendment," Duval wrote. "There is no significant difference in the case before the court."

The state had argued unsuccessfully that the law for issuing specialty plates was a protected state right and not covered by free-speech protections.

Louisiana has nearly 150 varieties of specialty plates that sell for $25 to raise money for groups and causes including universities, wildlife conservation and the Girl Scouts.
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