AG: Choose Life plates illegal

(August 29, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- The Arkansas Legislature approved production of license plates bearing the slogan "Choose Life" -- but Attorney General Mike Beebe says the law allowing the plates appears to be unconstitutional. The plates were expected to be available today. The "Choose Life" plates are intended to promote adoption as an option for pregnant women. Seven other states also offer them. Beebe's office says a court would likely find that the plates violate the rights to free speech, equal protection and due process. State Representative Buddy Blair of Fort Smith requested the opinion. It was researched and written by Assistant Attorney General Jack Druff. The opinion states that the "Choose Life" slogan on the plates would be considered private speech, but violates free speech through "viewpoint discrimination" because the plates are specifically authorized by the Legislature, creating a forum only available to organizations with viewpoints the state approves. Also, the opinion says, the plates violate equal protection and due process protections -- again because the plates are authorized by the Legislature.