Last week the 6th Circuit overturned a District Court decision that enjoined Tennessee from issuing "Choose Life" license plates. You can read the news article or look up the decision at 2006 WL 664372 (American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee v. Bredesen--it's not in a reporter yet, obviously). The court classified the plates as "government speech" and allowed it. The way I understand it, the government is allowed to take certain positions (e.g. "Smoking is bad."). Here, though, the challengers claimed that the government was not taking a position but providing a forum for private citizens to take a position. Why this is somehow constitutionally worse eludes me. It seems to me that, if anything, private speech would be MORE protected than government speech (for example because it doesn't not have other restraints such as establishment of religion clause). Perhaps someone can explain that to me? At any rate, the court didn't buy the argument.
If you're taking Civil Procedure like me, there is a mildy interesting subject matter jurisdiction question in section II of the decision. Appellants tried to say that the state had reserved exclusive jurisdiction over claims arising from state tax laws, and this was such a claim. Court said forget it; the extra $10 the plate costs is voluntary, so it's more like a purchase from the state government than a tax.
Anyway, I know these kinds of plates have been challenged in other states, and I'm not sure if all the outcomes have been similar. If not, is this an important (or ripe) enough question for the Supreme Court to grant cert?