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Federal appeals court rules Arizona must allow anti-abortion license plates

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that Arizona residents should be able to purchase specialty license plates bearing the slogan "Choose Life." The Ninth Circuit held that the Arizona License Plate Commission violated the First Amendment free speech rights of the Arizona Life Coalition [advocacy website] when it refused an application to print the group's anti-abortion message on state-issued license plates in 2002. The Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court summary judgment in favor of the state License Plate Commission. Reuters has more. The Arizona Star Daily has local coverage.

Last week, a federal judge ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the state of Missouri cannot deny an anti-abortion group's application for a specialty license plate with an anti-abortion message, holding that the Missouri law that allowed the denial was unconstitutionally vague. Choose Life of Missouri [advocacy website] had applied to get specialty license plates with the message "Choose Life," but its application was rejected when two senators on the license plate approval committee objected. US District Judge Scott Wright found the Missouri law unconstitutional because it did not include protections against state officials denying application based on viewpoint discrimination. The Missouri attorney general's office has not decided whether it will appeal that decision.

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