[guest post by Dana]
This afternoon, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the grounds of the state capitol:
“The time has come,” Haley said. “That flag, while an integral part of the past, does not represent the future of our great state.”
“We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. “The fact that people are choosing to use it a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capital grounds. It is after all a capitol that belongs to all of us.”
Haley, however, defends the rights of private citizens to fly the flag on their own property.
Of course, not everyone is on board with the governor:
The Sons of Confederate Veterans said it plans to vigorously fight any effort to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina’s Statehouse.
The group said it was horrified at last week’s shooting but there is “absolutely no link” between the massacre and the flag.
Leland Summers, South Carolina commander of the group, says the group is about heritage and history, not hate. He offered condolences to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and said now is not the time to make political points.
Summers said the Sons of Confederate Veterans have 30,000 members nationwide that will fight any attempt to move the flag.
A number of the 2016 Republican and Democratic candidates (and candidates-yet-to-announce) have weighed in on the Confederate flag debate. Their views can be found here.
And in further Confederate flag news:
Just last week, in the case of Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote, that Texas has the right to reject a specialty license plate application from the Sons of Confederate Veterans because the plate bears the Confederate flag:
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Texas did not violate the First Amendment when it refused to allow specialty license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag. Such plates, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority, are the government’s speech and are thus immune from First Amendment attacks.
“As a general matter,” Justice Breyer wrote, “when the government speaks it is entitled to promote a program, to espouse a policy or to take a position.” Were this not so, he said, the government would be powerless to encourage vaccinations or promote recycling.
People use specialty license plates to suggest that the government endorses the messages they bear, he wrote. Otherwise, he said, people “could simply display the message in question in larger letters on a bumper sticker right next to the plate.”
In dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said:
[T]he majority opinion “establishes a precedent that threatens private speech that the government finds displeasing.”
Texas has hundreds of specialty plates. Many are for college alumni, sports fans, businesses and service organizations. Others send messages like “Choose Life,” “God Bless Texas” and “Fight Terrorism.” The license plates are, Justice Alito wrote, “little mobile billboards on which motorists can display their own messages.”
He mocked the notion that, say, plates saying “Rather Be Golfing” or celebrating the University of Oklahoma conveyed a government message. The first, he said, cannot represent state policy. The second, in Texas at least, bordered on treason during college football season, he wrote.
*Joining the four liberal justices with the deciding vote was Justice Clarence Thomas.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, No. 14-144, any states which currently allow the Confederate flag specialty-plates can now ban them. States include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
*Over at the Atlantic, you can read an opinion as to why Justice Thomas joined the liberal justices in this case. Examining Justice Thomas’s comments made during Virginia v. Black, No. 01-1107, writer and constitutional law professor Garrett Epps believes Justice Thomas joined the liberal justices, because, as he puts it:
Thomas is the Court’s only African American. Much has been made of his rejection of contemporary civil-rights orthodoxy. But it is equally clear that Thomas retains vivid and bitter memories of his poverty-stricken childhood in the Jim Crow South—and that he retains a particular hatred for the symbols of Southern white supremacy