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New Jersey officials fail to stop discrimination case

Court refuses to dismiss lawsuit against unconstitutional license plate policy

TRENTON, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey Thursday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys against New Jersey officials for discrimination against a pro-adoption organization.

Motor vehicles officials denied the organization’s specialty license plate application while accepting the applications of other non-profit groups.

“The state wished to skirt its responsibility to deal with their actions in this case, but the judge did not grant their wish,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeff Shafer, who argued against dismissal before the court.  “The state cannot grant the applications of some non-profit groups and deny others just because their plates have a perfectly acceptable slogan they don’t like.”

The chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission repeatedly rejected the license plate designs submitted by The Children First Foundation, claiming that the words “Choose Life,” whether on their own or part of their Web site address on the plate, constitutes an “advocacy statement.”  However, the state has no objective standards or written prohibitions against the use of a slogan or advocacy message on an organization’s plate.

Additionally, the lawsuit points out that for other organizations the state has approved plates that include slogans and advocacy messages.

“We look forward now to the ability to argue this case in court so that our client’s constitutional rights do not continue to be violated,” Shafer said.

ADF-allied attorney Demetrios Stratis is local counsel in the case, The Children First Foundation, et al., v. Diane Legreide, et al., which was originally filed May 4 of last year in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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