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Status Report

Choose Life licence plates in other states

Status of Legislation

March, 2015  --  In February, 2015 Choose Life legislation ( HB 423) was introduced in the Illinois House for the 2015 legislative session.  The Transportation: Vehicles & Safety Committee refused to hold a hearing on HB 423, sending it to a sub-committee, so the Choose Life bill was killed for the 2015 legislative session.  Will anything change for 2016?

Status of Illinois Lawsuits

March, 2015  --  In February 2015 the Thomas More Society filed an amicus brief in a Texas case. The brief urges the Supreme Court to rule that specialty license plates, including “Choose Life” license plates, constitute private speech in a designated public forum, and are thus protected by the First Amendment as free speech. On March 24th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case.

August, 2014  --  The Thoms More Society has joined a new lawsuit asking Supreme Court to take the case of Choose Life license plates that are currently denied in Illinois, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The Thomas More amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to hear the “Choose Life” license plates case in order to resolve disputes among lower courts over how to treat specialty license plates.   More details...

October, 2009  --  The Supreme Court refused to take the appeal filed by the Thomas More Society, seeking review and reversal of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision prohibiting the issuance and sale of "Choose Life" specialty license plates in Illinois.   More details...

April, 2009  --  On April 16th, the Thomas More Society in Chicago filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision prohibiting the issuance and sale of "Choose Life" specialty license plates in Illinois.

December, 2008  --  On December 21st, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request for reconsideration of their November 7th ruling by the full judicial panel.  The next step will be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

November, 2008  --  On November 7th, a three judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Choose Life plates in Illinois by overturning Judge Coar's ruling that the Secretary of State begin production of Choose Life license plates in Illinois.

November, 2007  --  On November 27th, a three judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard the State of Illinois' appeal of Judge Coar's ruling that the Secretary of State begin production of Choose Life license plates in Illinois.

February, 2007  --  On February 15th, Judge Coar accepted an appeal by the Illinois Secretary of State of his Choose Life plate decision and issued a stay of his earlier ruling to begin production of Choose Life license plates in Illinois by February 22nd.  This appeal process could take as much as a year, but attempts will be made to speed up this process. 

On February 8th, Judge Coar denied Jesse White's motion asking that he reverse or amend his prior ruling.   As for the further request for a continuation of the stay of Judge Coar's order that the state start producing the choose life plate within 30 days from his ruling, the Judge pointed out that the stay already had been granted -- i.e., 30 days is enough for now.  That period will expire on February 21st.  For any continuation of the stay beyond that date, Judge Coar told the Assistant Attorney Generals who appeared in court that they should come back to apply for a further stay upon filing their appeal, if they're going to appeal.

January, 2007  --  Citing First Amendment protection, Judge David Coar ruled in favor of Choose Life Illinois, explaining that their message is constitutionally entitled to be on Illinois license plates.  In Judge Coar’s Memorandum it states that “…the Secretary of State is ordered to issue the ‘Choose Life’ plates.”  The state of Illinois must begin producing "Choose Life" specialty plates by the end of February, if it receives the requisite order of at least 850 plates, Coar ruled.  A spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White stated that White plans to ask Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to appeal the decision.

December, 2006  --  A summary judgment motion, seeking a final judgment "on paper," has been filed by Illinois Choose Life, Inc. and the private plaintiffs, and the Secretary of State, represented by the Illinois Attorney General's office, has filed a counter motion for summary judgment, and both motions remain under advisement and awaiting decision by U.S. District Judge David Coar in Chicago. 

December, 2004  --  U.S. District Court Judge David Coar denied a motion by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Jesse White by Choose Life Illinois, Inc.  In denying Madigan’s motion, Judge Coar set a trial date of January 2006, “engraved in stone,” and rejected Madigan’s argument that the lawsuit was baseless.   Read more...

June, 2004  --  With another legislative session completed and no action taken on either the House or Senate bill to establish Choose Life license plates in Illinois, the decision was made to file a lawsuit based on denial of free speech rights.  A press conference was held on June 28, 2004 to annouce the lawsuit.  The purpose of the lawsuit is to achieve an equitable system for creation of specialty plates.


Signatures Obtained

Support for adoption through the sale of Choose Life license plates appeals to people throughout Illinois.  As of January 27, 2005, signatures received and counted in support of Choose Life license plates in Illinois total more than 35,000.  These signatures come from 543 Illinois cities and towns and from 90 of the 102 counties in Illinois.  These 90 counties represent over 99% of the state population.  More signatures arrive every day.

Successful petition drives to obtain signatures have been organized at many churches so far (likely approaching 100). 


Richard and Sue Bergquist have 11 children.  They have adopted 8 children with special needs. 
Adoption is a loving option regardless of circumstances of birth or existence of prenatal abnormalities.

Results of Earlier Legislation

June, 2004  --  Choose Life legislation in the Illinois House (HB 5883) and Illinois Senate (SB 3089) were effectively blocked from consideration when no action was taken on either of these bills prior to the end of the regular session of the 93rd General Assembly that extended into June, 2004.

March, 2004  --  Choose Life legislation in the Illinois House (HB 5883) was again assigned to the State Government Administration Committee.   This committee refused to allow testimony on HB 5883 during a March 3, 2004 meeting.  Failure of committee action likely prevents any further action on HB 5883 this legislative session.  Jim Finnegan wrote a letter to Rep.Jack Franks on his refusal to allow testimony on HB 5883.

Status of earlier legislative attempts


Press Conferences

June 28, 2004 -- Choose Life License Plate Press Conference

Contact:  Dan Proft  312.446.6488

Choose Life, Inc. To File Suit Against State to Enjoin Illinois Specialty Plate Program

Chicago, IL…Today Choose Life Illinois, Inc. announced plans to file a lawsuit in federal district court against Secretary of State Jesse White to enjoin Secretary White from distributing specialty license plates unless and until a content-neutral non-discriminatory set of standards is established governing the creation of special plates.

The complaint alleges that “the entire process for approving special license plates in Illinois has resulted in a standardless, unguided, discretionary system…and allows the issuance of specialty plates with particular messages only if…the viewpoint expressed by the particular message has been deemed favorable by a majority of legislators.”

This process, according to the complaint, violates the First Amendment free speech rights and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection guarantees.

Choose Life Illinois has spent the last two years attempting in vain to pass legislation in Springfield that would authorize the creation of “Choose Life” specialty license plates, the proceeds from the sale of which would go to crisis pregnancy centers and other entities that provide adoption support services to women and families.

“We played by the rules and spent two years trying to move legislation through Springfield and give the General Assembly the chance to do the right thing,” said Choose Life Illinois President Jim Finnegan.  “It became clear we were not going to get a fair airing in Springfield so our only redress is through the courts.”

The suit seeks to permanently enjoin Secretary White from “awarding, approving, creating, or distributing further any specialty license plates except via a viewpoint neutral and content-neutral set of standards…”

More than 25,000 Illinois citizens have signed petitions calling for the creation of the Choose Life license plate in Illinois.

Since 1997, 12 states have approved the Choose Life adoption aid license plates and another 18 states are considering similar legislation.

A rally for the license plate will be held in Effingham, Illinois (Knights of Columbus Hall) this evening from 6-8pm.


Previous press conferences




This web site was activated in December, 2002 to support the Choose Life initiative in Illinois.  Over 35,000 signatures requesting the establishment of Choose Life license plates in Illinois were obtained using petition drives and individual efforts.  With the favorable January 2007 court ruling, efforts are now directed toward identifying people ready to purchase the plate when it becomes available. 

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