One of the favored ways in which the relentless and well-funded anti-choice machine is making its way into government is the “choose life” license plate scam. Part of the funds from selling the plates go to the state, but a portion also goes to support “pregnancy centers that do not offer abortion as an alternative.”
The battle seems headed for the Supreme Court, particularly since states like Tennessee — which allow sales of the plates — won’t allow pro-choice groups the same options. You expect this kind of stuff in a place like Tennessee, but when these anti-choice groups start trying to make a beach head in blue states like Connecticut using the same tactics it’s quite a different matter.
So what happened when the Connecticut state DMV said they were reviewing the right of an out-of-state group to sell such license plates in Connecticut? The group’s president, Elizabeth Rex of Yonkers, New York, produced her letters of support, incuding one from…wait for it…Joe Lieberman.
Make sure to follow Jane’s links as well. As she points out, it’s worth emphasizing that these “crisis pregnancy centers” are part of a very calculated strategy of the forced pregnancy lobby. To express support for this is indeed pretty much what you would expect of someone now touting his “pro-choice” credentials but who on the most important pro-choice vote of his career (the cloture vote on Alito) was on the other side. I think we know who the Nutmeg state’s next Senator should be.
Incidentally, the constitutional issue that Jane discusses from the top is very interesting; the appeals courts have been badly split. The 6CA opinion on the Tennessee case upheld Tennessee’s policy, although the reasoning is pretty shaky. To put it crudely, the key issue is whether the state’s decision to permit pro-life but not pro-choice plates is “government speech”–in which case of course the government can discriminate between viewpoints–or whether the state was creating a forum for private speech, in which case the state has to be viewpoint neutral. Given the nature of Tennessee’s program–which permits more than 150 private groups to put forward messages they’ve crafted–is much closer to the latter. I was also amused by what the government of Tennessee considers to be acceptable and what it doesn’t. Addressing the majority’s claim that requiring viewpoint neutrality would require the state to create KKK license plates (which, as the dissent points out, is a better argument for getting the state out of the business of advertising political messages on mandanatory license plates than for violating viewpoint neutrality; the 1st Amendment doesn’t permit the government to restrict speech because people may say racist things), the dissent notes:
Finally, I also cannot subscribe to my colleagues’ melodramatic doomsday predictions about what would occur should we hold that the Constitution requires that Tennessee’s specialty license plate program be viewpoint neutral. The majority claims that viewpoint neutrality will require the state to issue Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party specialty license plates. The simple answer in response to this suggestion is: Well of course that’s true if viewpoint neutrality means anything. That is the same reason that Tennessee cannot prevent the KKK or Nazi Party from getting parade licenses on the same terms as other groups and the same reason that Tennessee cannot prevent these groups from espousing their views in the town squares.
Additionally, what my colleagues seem to miss is the fact that Tennessee already authorizes a Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate bearing the emblem of the Confederate Flag. To some, the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride in one’s heritage. To many others, however, the Confederate flag is a symbol that is just as offensive as the examples my colleagues put forth. (“One of the Confederacy’s key beliefs, as its Constitution readily asserted, was the interminable white man’s right to own black slaves. The battle flag of the Confederacy, then, [can be interpreted as] an exclusionary message that stigmatizes blacks as outsiders of the political community.”) (“Moreover, common sense suggests that such problems are not readily resolved merely because symbols such as a Confederate flag may be accompanied with slogans such as ‘heritage not hate,’ because a symbol’s significance often lies ‘in the eye of the beholder.’ To its supporters at the time of its creation as well as some proponents today . . . the Confederate flag undeniably represented, and represents, support for slavery, . . . and opposition to the Republic.”). The majority’s invocation of KKK and Nazi Party license plates is a red herring. [cites ommitted]
Shorter Tennessee government: “We proudly endorse treason in defense of slavery and white supremacy, but supporting a woman’s reproductive freedom is beyond the pale!”