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Supreme Court Declines to Review Controversial Louisiana "Choose Life" License Plates Case

Statement from Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Keeler v. Stalder, a case that looked at whether states may issue specialty license plates with the message "Choose Life," but refuse to offer pro-choice plates. One hundred percent of the $25 fee paid by motorists for the specialty plates is funneled to anti-choice non-profit organizations. Decisions about which organizations will receive the money are made by a Choose Life Advisory Council-comprised of members of anti-choice groups, including the American Family Association, the Louisiana Family Forum, and Concerned Women for America.

"The Center for Reproductive Rights is extremely disappointed that the Court has declined review of this case. The Louisiana state legislature has now been given the green light to muzzle a specific group of people simply because certain elected officials disagree with their point of view," said Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the legal advocacy organization that sued the state on behalf of a state resident. "State lawmakers could have resolved this issue simply and fairly by offering pro-choice plates, but they specifically refused. If that's not state-sponsored censorship, then I don't know what is."

The Center's lawsuit argued that Louisiana is discriminating against pro-choice views by passing legislation that authorizes the sale of "Choose Life" license plates, but declining to issue plates expressing a counter "pro-choice" viewpoint. Louisiana and Tennessee are two of 13 states that allow motorists to purchase "Choose Life" license plates which distribute funds to anti-choice organizations.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit against Louisiana in 2000 on behalf of Doreen Keeler, a state resident who wants a pro-choice license plate for her vehicle. Attorney William Rittenberg, of the firm Rittenberg & Samuel in New Orleans, serves as co-counsel. Richard Stalder is the Secretary of Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections which is in charge of issuing license plates.