Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser ruled that Virginia can refuse issuing specialty license plates which display the Confederate flag. This happened in lieu of a recent Supreme Court ruling, stating that such a ban does not violate the First Amendment. This ruling primarily targets the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), whose logo is the Confederate battle flag. Judge Kiser said he will issue a written order, addressing whether the approximately 1,700 Confederate license plates that have already been issued will have to be recalled.
After the Supreme Court ruling, state Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s office argued in a motion filed in June, “Accordingly, it is now the law of the land that States may decide, as the Commonwealth of Virginia did in 1999, not to place the Confederate battle flag emblem on their specialty license plates.”
However, attorney Fred D. Taylor, who is representing the SCV, argued that the Supreme Court ruling should not apply to Virginia, because the state doesn’t have a formal procedure for approving the content of specialty license plates. Therefore, specialty plates issued in Virginia could be interpreted as a form of free speech.
“Virginia has what I would call, a very much hands-off approach,” he said. “No one believes that, when I see a Virginia Tech Hokies, or a particular fraternity or a political opinion license plate, that that’s the government speaking.”
The SCV is now involved with a similar case in Texas, which has gone to the Supreme Court. In 1999, the SCV sued Virginia over the use of their logo on license plates. Two years later, Kiser (the same judge who presided over last Friday’s hearing) enjoined Virginia from enforcing the ban, and concluded that it restricted free speech. The U.S. Court of Appeals later upheld that decision, but after the shootings in June at a church in South Carolina, a flurry of chaos ensued in regard to the Confederate battle flag.
Virginia jumped on the politically correct band wagon when Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered the removal of the SCV logo from Virginia license plates, saying that the Supreme Court ruling gave him the opportunity to make that call. The governor stated that the Confederate flag is “unnecessarily divisive and hurtful.”
That may be true to some people, but not to others. Therefore, the ruling is discrimination. If one group is not allowed to use their logo, motto, or emblem, then NO groups should be entitled to do so. Fair is fair, and taking away the SCV’s right to proudly display their logo on specialty plates is unfair.