CHICAGO – Members of a pro-adoption group upset over the state's refusal to allow "Choose Life" (search) license plates filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing the secretary of state of violating their constitutional rights.
Choose Life Illinois (search), a not-for-profit group based in Grayslake, is part of a national movement pushing for yellow specialty plates stamped with the phrase "Choose Life."
In a lawsuit naming Secretary of State Jesse White (search) as a defendant, the group said White's refusal to issue the plates without General Assembly approval violated their constitutional rights to free speech and due process.
"It is a totally subjective process that amounts to government censorship," group spokesman Dan Proft said.
The lawsuit seeks a court order barring White from issuing any new specialty plates or renewing older ones under the current process.
Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, said the lawsuit was "misdirected" because the General Assembly decides how the plates are issued. "It's beyond our control," he said.
At least 12 states offer "Choose Life" license plates, which have raised protests from those who view the slogan as anti-abortion.
Legal disputes have erupted over the plates in several states, including Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma.
Proft insists his group takes no position on abortion.
"Pro-life groups are not being funded by these plates," he said. "It's strictly about supporting adoption."
In Illinois, special interest groups receive a percentage of the revenue generated through the sale of the plates, which are more expensive than regular license plates. Legislation to create "Choose Life" plates to benefit pregnancy centers that encourage adoption was introduced last year but failed to win approval in the Legislature.