Anti-abortion slogan OK'd on Arizona license plates

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:59pm EST

An illustration showing the design for Arizona's ''Choose Life'' license plate, released to Reuters on January 28, 2008. An Arizona agency wrongly denied an anti-abortion group permission to print their message ''Choose Life'' on license plates, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday. REUTERS/The Center for Arizona Policy/Handout

An illustration showing the design for Arizona's ''Choose Life'' license plate, released to Reuters on January 28, 2008. An Arizona agency wrongly denied an anti-abortion group permission to print their message ''Choose Life'' on license plates, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/The Center for Arizona Policy/Handout

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Arizona agency wrongly denied an anti-abortion group permission to print their message "Choose Life" on license plates, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

The Arizona License Plate Commission allows nonprofit groups to highlight their cause on license plates, but the commission in 2002 and 2003 denied the Arizona Life Coalition permission for a specialty plate with the "Choose Life" slogan.

The Arizona Life Coalition alleged that the denial violated their First Amendment rights to free speech and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

"Nowhere does the statute create objective criteria for limiting 'controversial' material, and nowhere does the statute prohibit speech related to abortion," Judge Richard Tallman wrote. "The commission ignored its statutory mandate and acted unreasonably in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

(Reporting by Adam Tanner)

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