If the N.C. General Assembly wants a war of ideas on the road, it needs to at least make it a two-way street. But recent legislation allowing the state to produce a number of specialized license plates is making the conversation one-sided by offering North Carolina drivers the option of a pro-life plate, but not a pro-choice one.
This legislation borders on state-sponsored censorship, steers revenue toward organizations supporting the plates’ respective causes — and seems especially suspicious given the anti-abortion sentiment among current legislators.
Under this legislation, plates featuring the phrase “Choose Life” will be available to drivers for an additional fee of $25. But the state won’t produce the plates until Dec. 1, the first day of hearings between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued on First Amendment grounds.
It’s questionable whether this kind of advocacy even has a place on state-issued license plates. Regardless, the tactics and language surrounding this bill’s passage raise serious concerns about legislators’ respect for the first right afforded under the Bill of Rights.
Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-Burke) made sure in his sponsorship of the bill that the pro-choice side would not have its day on the road. He used all the Machiavellian shrewdness he could muster to bully, elbow and threaten his way into ensuring that nothing but a bumper sticker advocate for the right women have, at least for now, to choose to have an abortion.