Most states offer specialty automobile license plates that reflect a variety of special interests and political viewpoints. The state typically charges a nominal sum for a specialty plate, and may contribute a percentage of the proceeds to a non-profit organization dedicated to that particular cause.
For example, Virginia offers a license plate that says: "Friends of Tibet." According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, as a revenue-sharing plate, after the sale of the first 1,000 qualifying plates, $15 of the $25 fee is transferred to the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture to support its programs in Virginia. Virginia also offers a "Friends of Coal" plate, with funds going to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to support its programs.
Other states offer plates with a wide variety of viewpoints and diverse causes represented. Florida offers a John Lennon "IMAGINE" logo license plate, supporting efforts to reduce hunger. Others range from anti-terrorism and anti-drug messages to those supporting the National Rifle Association, pro-environmental conservation efforts and many others.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the State of North Carolina, which had approved a license plate in 2011 depicting children on it, along with the phrase "CHOOSE LIFE." Each plate would cost $25, with $15 of that going to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an association of nonprofit pregnancy counseling centers.
The North Carolina legislature considered, but rejected, license plates that would have said "TRUST WOMEN" and "RESPECT CHOICE."
The ACLU's argument was that, by choosing a "pro-life" viewpoint without offering equal time to an "opposing" viewpoint, the government ran afoul of the First Amendment.
And yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with the ACLU. North Carolina has been banned from manufacturing the plates.