A group including the Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council for Jewish Women told the Supreme Court in an emergency request that the law allowing the license plate was "an unprecedented instance of legislative viewpoint discrimination (in which) ... Louisiana has sought to establish a blatantly viewpoint discriminatory forum for expression of one view of the controversial issue of abortion."
Scalia oversees the 5th U.S. Circuit, including Louisiana. He could have referred the request to the full Supreme Court for a vote, but instead denied it on his own, as is customary in non-death penalty cases.
The justice denied the request without comment.
Thestatute was enacted in 1999. The group called it an attempt by the state to se "a fee paid by private car owners ... to establish a viewpoint discriminatory government grant-making program, and to establish a pervasively sectarian, fundamentalist Christian 'Advisory Council' to work in conjunction with state officials to implement the statute."
The act requires the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections to establish "a special prestige license plate" provided there are at least 100 applicants for it who would pay an annual $25 fee. The plate would not be put on public vehicles, but would be restricted to "passenger cars, pickups trucks, vans and recreational vehicles."
The design and color would be determined by the "Choose Life Advisory Council" as a new branch of Louisiana government.
The fees raised by sale of the plate would not go to the state treasury, but instead be deposited into the "Choose Life Fund," which in turn would be distributed to private organizations that provide counseling that advises adoption of an unborn child.
The group earlier filed suit in New Orleans against the implementation of the act, and a federal judge issued an injunction against it. However, a federal appeals court panel reversed the judge and instructed him to dismiss the lawsuit. The appeals court said the group "lacked standing" -- in effect, it could not show it was being injured by the law.