Planned Parenthood, Inc. v. Rose, out of the District Court of South Carolina, Charleston Division, No. 2-01-3571-23, was decided on December 23, 2002. In this case, the Court wisely sidestepped heated issues of pro-choice and pro-life advocates:
1. What this case is not about.
This is a free speech case. It is not about the merits of the ongoing national controversy between the pro-life and pro-choice movements. In another case, in some other court, the position of the parties with regard to some other state’s issuance of a license plate could well be reversed.
The Court found that the plaintiffs did, in fact, have standing to challenge the overly broad statute that created the “Choose Life” license plate on First Amendment grounds. Voice was being give, with the state’s sanction, to the Pro-Life faction, but not the Pro-Choice crowd. Now it’s my opinion, and I don’t seem to be alone here, that government should not interfere one way or the other in these kinds of issues. I’m not sure how many South Carolina potholes were repaired using funds from the sale of these “Choose Life” plates, which any South Carolina citizen could have purchased for an annual fee independent of the ordinary yearly vehicle licensing fee.
The “Choose Life” plates were the brainchild of pro-life Governor Bob Peeler and some of his NASCAR confederates. The bill was pushed through on the last day of the South Carolina general assembly in 2001.
Clearly, this new ruling is a victory for the pro-choice faction, but more importantly a victory for free speech advocates. Now, I’ve made it pretty clear where I stand on the pro-choice/pro-life issues, though they won’t ever affect me directly. And I don’t live in South Carolina and don’t plan to. And I’ve never been to a NASCAR race in my life. But free speech? Now there’s something I can relate to. i’m free to post what I want without fear of government retribution. Likewise you are free to run to my comment boxes and protest loudly why you disagree with me. So think about that when you click on the comment box.
Free speech feels pretty damn good, doesn’t it?
In that light, I think it’s easy to see the wrongheadedness of the “Choose Life” statute. It’s wrong as long as there aren’t similar plates available for sale that say “Choose Choice” or “Pro Choice” or whatever the pro choice slogan du jour may be. Have them both out there or have neither of them out there. Either way, the government shouldn’t be meddling in the private affairs of its citizens to the point of excluding completely one group of them. Personally, something that draws such fierce emotion from people (a lot of whom are, inexplicably, men, who have no more interest in the outcome of these issues than my neutered tabby and just about as much willingness to support the life that they so vociferously wish into this world) ought to be a warning to one and all. Keep your political slants to yourself if you don’t want a rabid crowd of fanatics (of either stripe) after you.
I don’t know about choosing life. I’d like to see some people choose common sense once in awhile though. Do you think we could have a license plate like that any time soon? Hell, I’d buy one!