Purpose of Lawsuit Against Secretary of State
Jim Finnegan's Statement -- June 29, 2004
In July of 2002, the Illinois Choose Life committee was formed to apply
for a specialty license plate that provided financial aid to organizations supporting
ADOPTION as yet another choice during a crisis pregnancy. Funds raised would go to
Adoption Agencies, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Homes for Unwed Mothers, and organizations
who specialize in helping children already born who need assistance, such as foster and
special needs children.
Illinois, like California, Louisiana, New York and New Jersey, all
have faulty systems for determining on a legislative (i.e. subjective) basis, which
organizations receive, and do not receive, the legislators' blessing for the issuance of
their plate. Free Speech, under the First Amendment of our Constitution, and equal
protection under the law, under the Fourteenth Amendment, are openly denied under such a
We are seeking from the Court a temporary injunction against the
issuance of any new specialty plates, and to hold back the renewal of any present plates,
until a value neutral system is set up to determine who will receive a specialty plate.
We want a system that will equally treat organizations such as our
Choose Life ADOPTION AID group, to benefit their cause. All groups should be given
the same protection under the law. In summary, we are not suing Mr. White
individually, but rather the system he administers under the present legislative approval
system within Illinois that has led to this blatant discrimination under the Free Speech
and Equal Protection clauses of our Constitution, the Supreme law of our land.
Dan Proft's Statement -- June 30, 2004For the purposes of all the non-attorneys, let's keep this in laymen's terms because that's how we need to explain to the public:
(1) As Tom Brejcha (attorney who filed the Federal lawsuit) said, because of sovereign immunity issues (11th Amendment), we cannot "sue the state"...we are suing Jesse White in his capacity as Secretary of State. In that capacity, he adminsters the specialty license plate program.
(2) The relief we are seeking is to enjoin (i.e. stop) the specialty license plate program in IL from proceeding unless and until a value-neutral, content-neutral set of standards is put in place by the Illinois
General Assembly so that all specialty plates and the groups who derive benefit from the proceeds of the plate are afforded equitable treatment before the law.
Why is this the case? The state has created this public forum through the specialty plate program...once the state creates a public forum, absent failure to comply with clearly defined standards, the state cannot regulate access to that forum based on content.
So suing Jesse White is to get the court to tell him to stop the program...he stops the program and forces the Illinois General Assembly to act--they either put standards as described above in place (if the court so deems) or disband the program.
This is better than getting a judge simply to declare the program unconstitutional because doing that would absolve the Illinois General Assembly of responsibility and would eliminate the program by court action. We want the Illinois General Assembly to have to make a choice...put the heat on them.
Gaining an injunction as we have proposed will put the heat back where it belongs, on the Illinois General Assembly, and the legislators will be getting heat from all those groups that currently benefit from specialty plates.
This is a very creative and intelligent approach Tom Brejcha has taken.