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Judge hears arguments in NAACP lawsuit over Confederate school names in Hanover

Posted at 2:12 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 14:12:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal judge is Richmond listened to arguments Monday by Hanover County School representatives to dismiss a lawsuit by the Hanover County NAACP over its use of Confederate names and imagery.

The pre-trial hearing was a continuation of the Hanover County School Board’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In August 2019, the NAACP sued Hanover County and the School Board seeking to change the names and mascots of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The lawsuit alleges that students who attend Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School were being denied an equal opportunity to an education free of compelled speech, a violation of students' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit against Hanover County has since been dismissed and the School Board is now the sole defendant in this case.

On Monday, the judge presiding over the lawsuit questioned what the NAACP were exactly claiming in the case after the plaintiff's attorney explained that the violation on the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause was the decision to name the schools after Confederate leaders 61 and 50 years ago, respectively.

The judge asked how the case can be based off the naming of a place causing harm, since the kids that the claim allegedly affected weren’t born yet.

The attorneys for the Hanover Chapter of the NAACP argued their case is based off not only the naming of the schools, but also the maintaining of the Confederate names.

They also urged the judge to see how the names and nicknames of mascots throughout the schools could negatively impact the students’ learning environments.

However, the defense says they have not seen any evidence of claims where mascot names on school jerseys have caused students to not be able to play, if the school names enforced speech, they did not agree with in regard to the Confederacy.

The judge also requested more information from the defense.

One item included that they needed to reach out to those who were on the School Board at the time the schools were named, before they can refute the plaintiff’s claim of the board’s intent, during the naming.

The Hanover NAACP’s counsel tells CBS 6 that they are waiting for the judge to make a decision on the arguments made in Monday's case, which could take up to several weeks.