|The Sons of Confederate Veterans argue that having the Confederate flag on their vanity plates is a freedom of speech. |
You'd think that the concept of Confederate license plates would go over wonderfully in Texas, but surprisingly that's not exactly the case. When the Sons of Confederate Veterans state branch (think mostly guys who like to dress up in gray wool and who really love all things Confederate) applied for a specialty license plate, the state decidedly didn't go for it. This led to some legal wrangling and now the issue has bounced all the way to the home of the Nine itself.
Yep, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., looking at whether Texas had the right to reject a specialty license plate application from the state chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
This all started about five years ago when the Sons of Confederate Veterans applied for a specialty license plate showing the Confederate flag along with the name of the group and the year it was established, 1896. After several votes, the board for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which handles the state license plate stuff, denied the application, saying that some people would interpret the Confederate symbol in negative and offensive ways (i.e. they might just conflate the Stars and Bars with slavery, the Old South, racism and the KKK, for starters.)
A district court agreed with the board but the case got kicked up to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel of three judges issued their ruling in July. In a 2-1 ruling, the Fifth Circuit sided with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, finding that the state was wrong not to approve the license plate. "By rejecting the plate because it was offensive, the board discriminated against Texas SCV's view that the Confederate flag is a symbol of sacrifice, independence and Southern heritage," the majority said. More »