Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No "Right to Life" Michigan license plates

If legislation that is before the Michigan Senate Transportation Committee passes, motorist will be able to purchase a license plate for their car that supports Right to Life of Michigan. Not only will the plate make a statement in support of the right’s “Pro Life” campaign, some of the money generated from the sale of the plate will go to Right of Life of Michigan. The organization has stated in press releases that they will use the money to support pregnancy centers around the state.

The Right to Life organization and other conservatives frame this as a free speech issue. The drivers of the cars that have one of the plates attached have a right to express their opinion. The right also believes that the state has the right to take positions on issues, comparing the position to things such as don’t drive drunk or stay in school.

The ACLU and other organizations on the left see it differently. They see this as a fairness issue. If the state is to sell plates that speak to a political point of view, they should offer the same to groups that are opposed to the idea. Also, funds that will be raised for Right to Life of Michigan will not be balanced with funds for the opposing point of view.

In a Responsible Community, the government is not chartered to support any political point of view – maybe even to go as far as not supporting any behavior other than to obey the law. Government in a community is created to facilitate the development of a safe and peaceful environment. To take a partisan side on any issue is to work against some of the stake holders in the community, a protection that is part of a constitutionally limited republic. In this case, the state is facilitating the right’s ability to express a political point of view, but is not providing the same ability for others. Even if the state was to offer a plate for pro-choice groups, it still falls outside of the state’s function.

On a practical matter, as soon as government steps in to a political issue, it will be impossible to delineate between the many points of view that exist in the community and support them all. Its attempt would create a confusing and wasteful use of resources, especially since it is outside of the function of government.

Let’s keep the government doing what it is chartered to do, create a safe and peaceful environment that supports all individuals in the community.