Sons of Confederate Veterans Face New Fight

Posted August 12th, 2015 at 6:00 am (UTC-4)

(Photo: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles)

(Photo: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles)

The sons of Confederate veterans have another battle on their hands if they intend to fight a Virginia plan to remove specialty license plates that depict the Confederate battle flag.


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The banner was the battle flag of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. The defeat of the Confederate States brought an end to slavery in the United States.

The Virginia specialty plates honor the Sons of the Confederate Veterans (SCV), an organization that says it is the oldest hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate soldiers. Drivers must be members of the group to have the distinctive plates on their vehicle. Of the 8.2 million active license plates in Virginia, fewer than 1,700 are the specialty Confederate flag plates.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called for the removal of the plates shortly after nine people were killed at a black church in South Carolina. A white man charged in the killings posed with a Confederate flag in online photos before the shooting. In a statement, McAuliffe said displaying the flag on state-issued license tags was “unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people.”

Virginia was forced to issue the plates in 2002, after a court judge decided banning the flag from the license plate curtailed drivers’ right to free speech.

However, in June of 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court — the highest court in the land — ruled that the state of Texas did not have to approve a similar specialty plate because license plates reflect the state’s speech, rather than the driver’s.

The design of a proposed "Sons of the Confederacy" Texas state license plate is shown in this handout illustration provided by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles March 20, 2015.

The design of a proposed “Sons of the Confederacy” Texas state license plate is shown in this handout illustration provided by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles March 20, 2015.

Reacting to the high court ruling, Charles Kelly Barrow, commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, called it a sad day for the First Amendment.

“It is unfortunate that the Court has not extended the same sense of inclusion, diversity and tolerance to the estimated 70 million Americans of Confederate descent that is the right of every other American,” Barrow wrote in a statement. “The idea of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance apparently does not apply under law to those of us whose heritage is unpopular in some quarters.”

After the Supreme Court ruling, the Virginia judge dissolved his 2001 order saying it was no longer good law.

“When the Supreme Court speaks, district courts must listen,” U.S. District Judge Jackson L. Kiser wrote in his order. “Specialty license plates represent the government’s speech, and the Commonwealth may choose, consonant with the First Amendment, the message it wishes to convey on those plates.”

With that decision, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the state agency that issues license plates, will begin the administrative process of recalling and replacing the distinctive Sons of Confederate Veterans plates with a new design that complies with Virginia law.

Confederate soldiers in Georgia, April 1861. (Library of Congress)

Confederate soldiers in Georgia, April 1861. (Library of Congress)

In the next few months, people who currently have the plates will be sent a new set of plates in the mail and will have 30 days to put them on their vehicle.

Drivers will also be asked to send their old plates in for recycling. And it they don’t return the old plates, which are likely to become keepsakes?

“The main concern is that we don’t want people driving on the roads with cancelled, inactive license plates,” said DMV spokeswoman Brandy Brubaker. “So within that 30-day time period they need to affix them [the new plates] to the vehicle. Driving without a license plate is a violation of Virginia law so that’s the most important part.”

There’s no word on what the new design will look like. The Virginia DMV plans to work with the Sons of Confederate Veterans to come up with an acceptable replacement. Brubaker doesn’t know what design will ultimately appear on the new plates, but she knows what won’t.

“It won’t have the Confederate battle flag on it,” she said. “Obviously designing and manufacturing new plates takes time, but we want to get this done as quickly as we can.”

12 responses to “Sons of Confederate Veterans Face New Fight”

  1. Karen Rhodes says:

    The government is willing to WASTE a lot of money to replace license plates that hurt no one and to move statues. This makes no sense. Don’t they realize most Americans first instead of race first do not agree with this agenda.

    • Jasmeen says:

      I strongly agree that it should be removed. Racist world wide still existing. We’re not in Colonial Era we are moving forward so its worth money waste. Set the world peace.

  2. I was always told that people in the United States have a right to display any flag they want. I understand how some people would feel offended by a confederate flag. For me, personally, I feel offended by nazi flags. God bless you. God bless America. RJ

  3. RALPH says:

    The American Civil War is part of the American History. Politically correct liberals, should not impose their views upon the nts
    of the White Southners, who fought for their country and sacrificed their lives, like any soldier called upon to do his duty.

    People have a right to remember the American Civil War. The citizens of the Southern States have a right to celebrate their history,
    the battles of the civil war in which, their ancestors participated. That goes for the flags, the military uniforms of the Southern Army,
    their leaders, and of course the flag in use, then. The Confederate flag was the flag of the Southern Confederacy, an independent country.
    It was their national flag, and thousands of soldiers sacrificed their lives to uphold it. It is wrong to ignore its significance.

    What if, there had been no civil war? The Southern States would have been an independent country today. They would have been flying their own flag.

    Lots of countries have been partitioned into independent countries. They exist.

    The States governments should let their citizens hang to their historical symbols. Therefore, a car license plate bearing the Confederate Flag, does not hurt any one.

    Again, this country should not forget its historical past. No country should forget its past history.

    Variety is the spice of life. The U.S. is a democracy, citizens have a right to express their views, and wear the clothes they want.

    There was a news item about Brazil, where the descendants of the Southners, celebrate the Confederacy Day. They display the Confederate Flag, dress up in a variety of Southern period clothes and military uniforms. Listen to the period music.
    Brazil is an independent country.

    The American liberals should leave the Brazillian citizens alone. Not even go there. Certainly, not critize the Brazillians who trying to have fun. The Brazillian citizens have been doing this for the past 150 years.

    Perhaps, the U.S. may be divided into the Conservative States and the Liberal States. History repeats itself.

  4. Ken says:

    It is my belief, that the state of Virginia, contravenes, Article I, Section 9, Clause 3: Ex Post Facto. It is factual, that the governor, determined, that displaying the confederate flag, makes the symbol, guilty of murder. If this argument should stand the tests, as to it’s perceived intent, by the state of Virginia. Then, the new law, is an ex post facto law, there by nullifying, the new law and allowing the licence plates, now in existence to stand on their merits of, a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law. The new law, is no longer applicable to situations to which it previously was,

  5. marcia says:

    This going overboard for political correctness is getting tiresome. There is nothing wrong with displaying the Confederate Flag. This Flag doesn’t offend me as much as other types of Flags which are now flying across the U.S. Until ALL FLAGS ALL PEOPLE are offended by are taken down leave the Sons of Confederate Veterans alone.

  6. Larry says:

    Sure don’t know why the states still allow them Black Panther Flags. Must be that politically incorrect bull that has Everyone scared to state their rights as Americans.

    • Rose McFrog says:

      Larry, the Black Panthers aren’t demanding that their flags be flown on tax-payer funded monuments and buildings. Big difference.

    • Rellif says:

      Once upon a time many Americans were not allowed to “state their rights” and opinions. Regarding that freedom of speech, consider the following during the 1850’s from the Statutes of Kansas, 1555, chapter 151, Sec. 12: “If any free person by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory, or shall introduce into this Territory, print , publish, write, circulate….any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet, or circular containing any denial of the right of persons to hold slaves in this Territory such person shall be deemed guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term of not less than two years.” Had it not been for such men as Lincoln at that time, Kansas would have been approved statehood with the above as part of their state constitution.
      As George Mason said in 1776, “That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

  7. Howard says:

    I’m a northerner. I say let those southern boys be proud of their ancestry. They certainly
    don’t have to go around feeling ashamed that they’re Sons of a Confederate. That was one
    heck of a fight. You’ve got to respect anybody who will stand up and duke it out. Many of
    those southern soldiers, due to lack of resources, marched to war bare-foot, ill-fed, and ill-
    clothed but they hung in there and gave it all they got. For that you can forget about cause
    and politics and just respect a great fighting spirit. Be proud of your ancestry, Sons of a

  8. Nikki says:

    I agree with banning the confederate flags because the wars are over now, and black people should not be killed because they have confederate flags on their number plates.

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