Confederate Flag License Plate Legal Battle Rages On

The Confederate Flag license plate legal battle continues to rage on. A federal appeals court has reviewed the lawsuit filed against government officials who rejected a petition for a customized Texas license plate emblazoned with the Confederate Flag.

The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a lawsuit over the Confederate Flag license plate denial in 2011. The legal action was prompted by a Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board rejection of a specialty license plate application.

The Confederate Flag license plate lawsuit was dismissed in 2013. But, a three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled earlier this week at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles violated the First Amendment rights of the group when denying the specialty license plate.

The free speech lawsuit has been sent back to an Austin federal court for review. The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans maintains that the Confederate Flag honors the members of Confederate soldiers and their sacrifices during the Civil War and illustrates their Southern heritage.

An attorney for the Texas division of the group, John McConnell, said the most recent court ruling reaffirms that the government “cannot step into an issue and silence one side while endorsing the viewpoint of the other side.” NAACP Texas Chapter President Gary Bledsoe disagrees. “This is a sad day for African Americans and others victimized by hate groups in this state,” Bledsoe said. The NAACP leader went on to say that he feels a Confederate Flag license plate “marginalizes” Americans and is “akin to memorializing slavery.”

While slavery was surely a major instigating factor in the Civil War, and the thought of one human being owning another is surely considered a ludicrous concept today, the tragic human bondage was not the only reason for the war between the states. States’ rights and unfair taxation concerns over goods imported from Europe were also deciding factors in the decision to take up arms.

An excerpt from the Texas Sons of the Confederate Veterans website offers this as a description of the focus of the group:

“Texas heroes, like thousands of other citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution. The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built.

Today, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is preserving the history and legacy of these heroes, so future generations can understand the motives that animated the Southern Cause. The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, and the oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers. Organized at Richmond, Virginia in 1896, the SCV continues to serve as a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to ensuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved.”

While some view the Confederate Flag as a symbol of racism, others view the stars and bars as simply a depiction of Southern pride. Earlier this year, Department of Motor Vehicles in Georgia issued a Confederate Flag specialty license plate design.

What do you think about Confederate Flag license plates?