Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

New Jersey ‘Choose Life’ License Plates Case Renewed In Courtroom

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 17, 2010

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued an opinion Friday to reinstate a lawsuit dismissed by a district court in 2008 that sought to keep the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission from rejecting a pro-adoption organization’s “Choose Life” license plates.

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF)attorneys filed the lawsuit, The Children First Foundation v. Legreide, five years ago after the commission repeatedly refused to grant The Children First Foundation’s application for the specialty plates.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeff Shafer said that the government should not single out a pro-adoption group for censorship.

“Censoring the ‘Choose Life’ logo on New Jersey license plates is a textbook case of viewpoint discrimination, which blatantly defies the First Amendment,” said Shafer. “We are pleased that the appellate court has reinstated this lawsuit and look forward to the full vindication of the foundation’s free speech rights.”

In May 2004, ADF attorneys filed suit after New Jersey officials rejected The Children First Foundation’s plates because its “Choose Life” slogan was declared to be too “controversial” and “political.” The officials later attempted to amend their censorship justification, saying the plate was rejected because it contained “advocacy.” However, the lawsuit pointed out that the New Jersey special plate program was designed for advocacy and that the state has approved specialty plates for other organizations that present advocacy messages.

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey refused to dismiss the lawsuit in March 2005. A new judge assigned to the case dismissed it in June 2008, and ADF attorneys appealed the dismissal.

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit cleared the way for the full approval of “Choose Life” specialty license plates in Missouri. Last November, a federal court ordered the Arizona License Plate Commission to approve a “Choose Life” plate in that state. In both cases, the “Choose Life” plates were singled out for denial even though the specialty plates of other organizations had been approved.

Courtesy of


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