Supreme Court: States Can Ban Confederate Flag

Supreme Court: States Can Ban Confederate Flag

This week, the Supreme Court overturned an Appeals Court decision setting a massive precedent for free speech. The case, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, decides whether license plates are considered state speech or individual speech.

Sons of Confederate Veterans filed suit against the State of Texas when the state denied their application for personalized license plates displaying the Confederate flag. The organization’s commander in chief Charles Kelly Barrow argues the group was merely honoring those who fought for the south. He commented in USA Today saying, “The idea of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance apparently does not apply under law to those of us whose heritage is unpopular in some quarters.”

The lower court’s majority opinion was that state-issued plates do not constitute state-speech. They held that the First Amendment protects free speech rights, even on a license plate.

In the 5-4 decision in favor of Texas, the Supreme Court disagreed. They countered claimed messaging on plates implied that, to some degree, a state endorsement of the specific messages and therefore the plate constitute state speech.

“Texas offers plates that pay tribute to the Texas citrus industry. But it need not issue plates praising Florida’s oranges as far better,” Justice Breyer wrote in the majority opinion. “And Texas offers plates that say ‘Fight Terrorism.’ But it need not issue plates promoting al-Qaeda.”

One of the majority voters was conservative Justice Clarence Thomas. He joined four liberal members of the court to overrule the Appeals Court. Dissenters speculated that Thomas’s race served as an influencing factor in his vote against the flag.

The decision likely has opened a judicial can of worms. It raises more questions than answers concerning what a state can bar from plates and what it cannot. Thus, a decision which prohibits North Carolina from issuing a “Choose Life” plate without approval of a corresponding pro-choice option is now in question. “Choose Life” plates have been issued in 29 states.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. If knowledge is power, is ignorance impotence? If the truth hurts, will deceit or falsehood or denial prevent hurt? Regulating what people can know, controlling the content of what children learn, arbitrarily and selectively, for the betterment of society has long been derided and opposed by liberals as a violation of “freedom.” Christians practice this, while informing people, especially children, that evil exists in a world of sinners. It is the laws and commandments of God, applicable to all, regardless of religious background, which are universally beneficial, when obeyed and practiced. Undisciplined lifestyles lead to problems of all sorts, many of which are economically beneficial to the legal community. We may not be able to “legislate morality,” but we can profit from those actions which require litigation. Life is full of natural risk. How lawyers know where to draw the line with respect to it in order to make laws which, supposedly, will limit it, is becoming more difficult to discern. The ability to discriminate, legally, without discriminating morally, is a paradox of problematic proportions. Without having consciences which are informed by the same sources, division is the result. This is what started the Civil War. It is what has perpetuated prejudice. It is what necessitates defense and self-defense. If we know that certain belief systems are contrary to our own and, thus, constitute a risk factor to us, to what extent are we willing to go to prevent them from harming us? Assuming that one could remove the offensive thing, flag or gun or unwanted fetus or person, it would not change the fundamental morality and causality for the history of it.
    Deal with the nature of man. It is what he has done to deal with his own nature which determines the content of his personal history. It begins with discipline and discipline never stops. Those who are undisciplined need discipline. It is that simple.

    • “…We may not be able to “legislate morality,” and “Deal with the nature of man.”

      Without trying to disagree with you (mostly, I don’t) the fact is that the whole purpose of law is to legislate morality. The idea that morality cannot be legislated is the brain child of dope smoking hippies of the 1960s (I know, I was there). If morality cannot be legislated, then why are there laws against murder, theft, bribery, extortion, issuing a threat, kidnapping, perjury, ect, ect, ect. ? Precisely because the law was created to deal with the nature of man.

      The question is “Whose morality?”. It would seem that every one has their own ideas about that. When the nation was founded, there was no doubt “whose morality” was the glue of coherence in the culture of the new nation. But, that morality has been under assault by those who think morality is determined by man, not by anything higher than man. So, you are right in what you said about differing belief systems. Of course, the end result of disjointed belief systems within a culture is division, argumentation, dispute, eventually dissolution of coherence. In a dissolving culture, there are only two things that can happen. Either 1) the society returns to the common, cultural moral system that created it and returns to at least some semblance of unity or 2) anarchy will take place and remain in place until some form of totalitarian force and power take it over the disrupted society.

      I suppose their might be other outcomes, but I’m not able to think of any.

  2. I don’t fly the Confederate flag. It doesn’t mean much to me personally as a symbol. But it does mean a couple of things to me, very personally. 1) I do recognize that it does mean a great deal to millions of my fellow Americans and I don’t believe for a minute that the majority of those millions respect it as a “racist symbol”. That’s a lot of crap made up by others of my fellow Americans who seek to dictate to those who do respect it and chose to honor it. That doesn’t mean I think less of one group of Americans than I do the other. It means that when one group of Americans deliberately targets what the other respects for a frivolous reason, and the assertion that all who display the Confederate flag do so because they are racists, then that group is in the wrong especially when 2) one group assumes to themselves to restrict the freedom on another group. Is the Confederate flag offensive to some black folks? I suppose it is, but I fail to see how it is more offensive to them than it is for my wife and girls to see black men walking around with their belts below their buttocks and the butts exposed to every one. I say if you’re going to outlaw the Confederate flag because it is offensive, then the least you can do is to also outlaw the offensive practice of indecent exposure that I suppose in some twisted, perverted way, is supposed to be representative of what it is to be black in America. If you’re going to remove the flag of one group to stop offensiveness, make the other group pull up their dam pants and stop using the infamous “N-word” in public every time they open their mouths for the same reason, to stop deliberate offensiveness.

    But, I suppose that would be to much to ask of hypocritical, control freak leftist liberal, huh?

  3. When in doubt, err on the side of citizen’s free speech – not government – lest we forget that the constitution was meant to reign in government not the freedom of the people.

    • Leftist control freaks are not in doubt about their right to dictate to the rest of the country. If they were, they wouldn’t be leftist control freaks.

        • They’re just to self-righteously stupid to know that when they destroy American freedom, they’re painting themselves into a corner that they’re not going to be able to get out of… Of course, I’m sure they’ll find a way to lay the blame at someone else’s feet…. they are experts at that.

  4. I think this ruling is much narrower then it seems. The state issues plates its a state prerogative what they say Its not the same as an individuals right to free speech you could paint that decal on your car doors and no one could stop you. As to the confederate battle flag it along with hundreds of other circumstances has been deemed racist by the PC police who have used that claim so often and wrongly its irrelevant any more just like the boy who cried wolf. Mores the shame.

    • But this is a case of First Amendment because the State of Texas, like most States, saw that money could be made by offering personalization of plates. Personalization is a form of free speech and the State authorized it. Now if the State produced plates the traditional method of one style only to the public, then their case and the Justices ruling would hold true. This is simply not the matter when they (State) opened it up to personalize. So what if other plates are offensive to others? I know that I would be highly offended by a support islam or homosexual pride plate. Should those not be banned as well?

      • dont get me wrong I dont advocate hypocritical PC BS or censorship in general. Many states already restrict certain personalization like “I4NAK8” or “fucU” “KillCops” logo’s usually aren’t offensive and I dont think that flag is either I could envision all kinds of perverted logos if allowed I just dont envision this ruling have significant consequences except here its the state bowing to PC public speak driven by a progressive agenda. I hate the fact that the powers that be in this country seem intent on destroying ANY traditions

  5. The people of this once great country has forgotten that we rule by what majority wants. These major issues should not be judged by handful of anti-Americans. When people finally realize that they are being enslaved the fire works will really start. There will not be enough hiding places for these terrorist elected jackasses.

  6. Ban personalized plates. Period. Plates are state license. You do not need to personalize government licenses. Put your personal statements on your bumper stickers!!!!

  7. The more social justice we have, the less of the real thing, as in an impartial government administering the law, impartially.
    What, on Earth, could one put on a license plate that isn’t bound to offend somebody?
    So, some people being offended has to be different than other people being offended, and here we go on another round of hate, vengeance and violence.
    (We all are getting more violent, these days. Aren’t we, oh lovers of peace and tolerance?)
    How about the state acting like the state instead of some social worker or pop star?
    How about license plates that just say license plate”?
    How about postage stamps that just say “25 cents”?
    How about money that just says “10 dollars”?
    And it’s actually worth ten dollars today, tomorrow, next week, next year,,,,or isn’t there going to be a next year?
    How about, a government that is actually worthy of respect rather than one that spends its time legislating license plate art?
    And yes!
    The Confederacy WAS a part of MY Heritage.
    So what about it?
    You want to fight the damn thing all over again?
    Fine!
    Maybe we’ll win and secede from the Union before it goes belly up.
    Now, that is something actually worth fighting for!
    Freedom, today, means Freedom from WDC.
    And hey!
    WDC hasn’t been winning wars lately.

  8. The title of this article would imply that the state of Texas intends to ban the Confederate flag, but the issue was Texas’ right to determine what messages are appropriate for their license plates. This may also mean that the state of Texas can refuse to issue other controversial plates promoting abortion, gay marriage, etc.

  9. If a state lets drivers choose what symbols, if any, appear on their license plates, that cannot possibly be ‘government sponsored’ speech.

  10. I understand the reasons given. I also understand they are incorrect. I even think an al-qaeda license plate would be a good thing — nothing better than having a terrorist outing himself (and collecting an extra $50 from him in the process).

  11. Consideration of Cessation from the Obama Mis-administration, is a topic being considered on several radio and TV stations, primarily local, but being considered in many areas outside the Commiecrat strongholds. and in California, the upper Midwest and Eastern Democratic strongholds. Support is growing for his dismissal in nearly all the other areas. Is it justified. It sure is!

  12. THE CONFEDERATE FLAG WAS USED IN TIMES OF WAR NOTHING TO DO WITH RACISM!! WE NEED TO KEEP THE FLAG! AND NOT ALLOWED THE BUNCH OF IGNORANTS NOTHING BETTER TO DO’S !! ! WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE.. NOT IN THE LAND OF DICTATORS!!

  13. Isn’t it interesting that the Supreme court has ruled that you can burn the American flag in the name of freedom, but the Confederate flag can be banned altogether? By the way, the Democrats raising hell about the Confederate flag …. wasn’t it the Democrat party that created it?

    I’ll answer that myself … yes, it was. And now they’re blaming Republicans and conservatives for the racism it represents … how typical of the Democrats… guilt transference experts extraordinaire.

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