Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board
Monday, 05 October 2009 19:57
According to the Supreme Court, the discussion of Illinois’ right to express their views on license plates has hit a wall, courtesy of the first amendment.
America’s highest court ruled the state of Illinois does not have to issue special “Choose Life” license plates despite the pressure from the Choose Life Illinois organization urging the states to provide them.
Even though Choose Life Illinois received more than 25,000 signatures in support of these specialized plates, the state chose not to issue them, with state officials saying that Illinois did not “want to appear to be taking a position on the abortion issue.”
While the state of Illinois offers dozens of specialized license plates, the vast majority of them endorse neutral causes or organizations like public and private universities in the state, the military and various other state entities like police officers and firefighters.
An interesting aspect to this case is that these plates do not come standard issue. An individual must pay an extra fee to put the plate on their car. That fact, coupled with the promise that Choose Life Illinois said they would use the proceeds for anti-abortion political activities, makes this issue even more controversial.
After all, since these “Choose Life” bumper stickers are available for purchase in 24 states, with several more states in the process of getting them, why can’t the citizens of Illinois have the choice of purchasing them?
We believe the Supreme Court and the state of Illinois made the right decision in not allowing these plates to be offered. While the printing of these plates wouldn’t be immediately taken as a government endorsement, the lack of a plate advocating a woman’s right to choose could put the state in hot water.
Abortion is one of the biggest hot-button issues in today’s society. With this license plate dilemma, Illinois knew they would take a public relations hit from whichever side they didn’t appease and probably figured that there would be less backlash from not allowing these plates to be made.
We also question why the people from Choose Life Illinois were so set on the license plate idea. Going through the hassle and paperwork of getting the plates cleared could have been avoided by starting a campaign with bumper or window stickers, which would come at a less hefty cost for their supporters.
As much as Illinois has done wrong over the last several months, we feel they made the right decision here. Just about every issue these days is campaigned for and politicized and the last thing we need is for every issue to be the focus of an Illinois license plate.
It’s not about muzzling the pro-lifer’s voice. It’s making sure over-politicized issues are kept where they belong: off of license plates.