Court of appeals: equal protection case for ‘Choose Life’ logo on license plates will move forward

ADF successful in this round of defending civil rights lawsuit against New York DMV’s attempt to silence life-affirming message
Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ALBANY, N.Y. — A pro-adoption organization, defended by attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund, won a temporary victory this week when the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to allow the organization’s civil rights lawsuit brought against state officials to go forward.  The lawsuit relates to the organization’s application to have its life-affirming logo on specialty license plates, which had been rejected by the DMV.

“Children First Foundation has the right to a specialty license plate on the same terms as any other organization,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeff Shafer.  “The state has no right to engage in viewpoint discrimination.  That the DMV would consider our client’s life-affirming speech to be subject to censorship departs from settled constitutional principle.”

The New York DMV rejected the foundation’s license plate design of a crayon drawing of a yellow sun behind the faces of two smiling children, claiming a significant segment of the population would consider the design “patently offensive” because it also included the words “Choose Life.”

Attorneys for the New York government officials had asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the state’s demand to have the lawsuit dismissed against the individually named defendants.  In January 2005, a federal judge denied the state’s demand, and on Monday the court of appeals ruled to allow the case to move forward, noting that “restrictions of speech must be reasonable and viewpoint neutral.”  A complete copy of the court’s decision can be read here.

“ADF is pleased that the court of appeals is allowing this case to go forward in the manner in which it was filed,” said Shafer.  “We are looking forward to having our opportunity in federal court to make our case in defending free speech and equal treatment under the law.”

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.