On License Plates, is the ACLU Hypocritical?

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have sued the state of Tennessee, saying the state’s “Choose Life” Specialty license plate “discriminates against those citizens with opposing viewpoints.”

There is no record I can find of the ACLU suing the District of Columbia in regards to their “taxation without representation” license plates, which protest the fact that the District of Columbia, not being a state, does not have a Congressman and two Senators.

Unlike the Tennessee plates, which are issued to people only upon their request, the D.C. plates are mandatory for all vehicle owners.

ALCU has an interesting record in regard to license plates. In 2000, it sued in federal court to force Missouri to issue an “Aryan 1” license plate after the state had refused, saying the plate ran afoul of a law banning plates that are “obscene, profane, inflammatory, or contrary to public policy.” Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. had previously refused to order Missouri to issue the plate.

(Limbaugh, by the way, is a relative of Rush Limbaugh’s, putting at least part of the Limbaugh family against ending a ban on racially inflammatory license plates while the left-wing ACLU take the opposite position.)

In Ohio, Ray Vasvari, legal director for the ACLU, told the Cincinnati Post (11/23/2001) that license plates are a public forum that should not be heavily regulated. Vasvari was commenting on Ohio’s policy banning hateful speech, profanity and enthic slurs on plates. His comments would seem to leave the door open for “choose life” plates, and all other specialty license plates, for that matter.

If anyone knows that the ACLU did try to block the District of Columbia from forcing its residents to display a slogan with which they might not agree, or can give me a good argument as to why the ACLU should be more interested in a voluntary slogan than a mandatory one, please let me know. I’ll share anything thoughtful I receive here in the blog.

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