Should license plates, which are issued by the government, be allowed to represent political beliefs? Unlike a decal or sticker on your bumper or back window, this seems to toe a weird line on the debate about separating church from state. Lawmakers in Nebraska, however, disagree and have granted initial approval to a bill that would let drivers display their opposition toward abortion on their state-issued license plates. If passed, the state would join 29 others that authorize the production of such plates.
Senators in the state voted 37-7 in a two-day debate to forward a bill that requires the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to design “Choose Life” license plates in opposition to abortion. The proposal still requires two more votes and opponents are vowing to filibuster it each time. These proposed plates would cost five dollars more than your standard signage, and the difference will supplement federal funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
As it stands, organizations are able to apply for specialty license plates if they pay for 250 applications in advance and prove that at least 250 people will pay a $70 annual renewal fee, which is what Senator Patty Pansing Brooke of Lincoln suggests the plate supporters will do, though she’s uncertain why such a divided statement needs to be state-sanctioned speech.
There are currently 29 states that offer “Choose Life” plates according to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that supports abortion rights. But Senator Bob Krist of Omaha, who is one of the more vocal lawmakers, is vehemently against the decision. “What’s next?” he asked. “Pro-choice? I like my Buick? I’m pro-death penalty? I like to kill people?”
While we love discussing politics and civil rights at Playboy—and will always support a woman’s right to choose—when it comes to where we debate those views, we’re more in favor of doing it environments that aren’t subject to road rage. How about asking states to only authroize plates with lighthearted messages—you know, messages that will fuel camaraderie instead of road rage like, “More restaurants should offer onion rings as a substitute for fries.”