WASHINGTON D.C. — Should the Confederate Flag be allowed on Texas license plates? That’s a question now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
At issue is if the government or motorist control the message on a license plate?
The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued after the Department of Motor Vehicles ruled against their plate design, which included the stars and bars.
The historical organization claims the plate is to honor the soldiers who fought during the Civil War for the Confederacy.
The justices are hearing arguments Monday over whether the state violated the group’s First Amendment rights.
According to CNN, “In considering the challenge, the justices will have to first decide whether what is on the license plate constitutes government speech. If it does, then it is not subject to constraints under the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
The First Amendment dispute has brought together some unlikely allies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-abortion groups, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, civil libertarian Nat Hentoff and conservative satirist P.J. O’Rourke.
“In a free society, offensive speech should not just be tolerated, its regular presence should be celebrated as a symbol of democratic health – however odorous the products of a democracy may be,” Hentoff, O’Rourke and others said in a brief backing the group.
Texas commemorates the Confederacy in many ways, but it says that putting the battle flag on license plates would offend many Texans who believe the flag is a racially charged symbol of repression.
The same image is etched on a century-old Civil War monument on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin.
A decision is expected by late June.