'Choose Life' Plates Will Remain in 5th Circuit States
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Edith Jones, has walked over the First Amendment issues involved in Louisiana's "Choose Life" license plates and instead, by declaring the fee paid for license plates a tax, has referred the case back to the state courts.
This is a bad decision. Our pal Bill Rittenberg, who represented the freedom of choice activists in the case, says that in effect, Judge Edith Jones (who also once ruled it's okay if the defense lawyer sleeps through his client's death penalty trial) has decided that the state courts should decide first amendment rights that the state legislature denied. He says the Court sidestepped the real issue as to whether the plates profide the the state a device to discriminate based on viewpoint. I'm surprised Judge Edward Prado joined the decision.
Our view: "Choose Life" license plates are fine, provided they include the tag line "End the Death Penalty."
On a related note, yesterday the Ohio Senate authorized license plates that say "one nation under g-d" for an extra 10 bucks. Our source quips: "I guess it could be worse - they could have offered - "Jesus died for our sins." That bill now goes to the Ohio House.
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