RICHMOND, Va. — The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) are firing back against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) plan to replace the group’s vanity license plates featuring the Confederate flag.
Last month, Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued the order to the DMV in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case that he said helped authorize his decision.
However, lawyers for the Confederate sons said that not only does McAuliffe not have the power to make such an order, but that the Texas ruling does not necessarily apply to Virginia.
“When comparing the two cases, the procedure for issuing specialty license plates is so vastly different between Texas and Virginia that there is an important legal question as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s Walker decision even applies here,” Fred D. Taylor, an attorney for the group, said a in news release.
As a result, the group filed a brief that argues the DMV’s Motion to Vacate the 2001 US Western District of Virginia Court decision and a 2002 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling should be denied.
“Those decisions and resulting court orders instructed the Virginia DMV to begin issuing the specialty license plates bearing the SCV’s Confederate Battle flag-themed logo,” SCV officials wrote in a news release. “The original lawsuit, Sons of Confederate Veterans v. Holcomb, was sparked in 1999 when the Virginia General Assembly voted to approve the SCV’s specialty tag, but only after illegally removing the organization’s logo from the plate – the first and only logo ever so censored by the Virginia legislature.”
The Virginia General Assembly approved a specialty license plate for the SCV in 1999, but lawmakers forbid the group from displaying the Confederate insignia.
The organization sued and the Fourth Circuit eventually upheld the organization’s first amendment rights.
Last month, the governor instructed Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to start the process of reversing the prior court ruling and replacing the current plates. More than 1,600 Virginians have license plates displaying the Confederate flag.
The group said a hearing on the case is slated for July 31 at 11 a.m. in US Western District District Court in Danville.