After a six-year battle, pro-lifers are celebrating the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's decision to approve "Choose Life" license plates.
"With the help and support of our members and donors, the New Jersey 'Choose Life' license plate is now finally a reality!" said the Children First Foundation, the official sponsor of the pro-life plate.
The group announced on Thursday that "choose life" was approved by the state commission as a special organizational license plate. The approval came before an appeal was heard in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Children's First Foundation filed a lawsuit in 2004 after New Jersey officials rejected their license plate, declaring the pro-life slogan to be too controversial and political. The officials later said the plate was rejected because it constituted "advocacy."
Notably, attorneys for the foundation said in the lawsuit that the special plate was designed for advocacy and that the state had approved specialty plates for other advocacy organizations.
The lawsuit was dismissed in 2008 but the 3rd Circuit reinstated the case, saying the state's decision to reject the "Choose Life" plates may have amounted to "viewpoint discrimination."
With state officials now having agreed to allow the plates, the Children's First Foundation voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit.
"Pro-adoption organizations should be allowed to express their message as part of a program where others are freely allowed to express theirs," said Jeff Shafer, legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, in a statement Wednesday. "The state of New Jersey has done the right thing in agreeing to honor The Children First Foundation’s free speech rights and allowing the ‘Choose Life’ plates, just as it allows many other groups’ plates that promote various causes."
New Jersey joins 25 other states that have approved a "Choose Life" license plate. The plates are designed to not only promote a message encouraging life and adoption but also to raise funding to help pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes in the Tri-State area. An annual membership donation is required to purchase the plate.
Over the last 10 years, the plate has raised over $13 million to help pregnant women choose life by providing moral support and financial assistance.