SCOTUS Signals Interest In Challenge To Confederate Flag


The U.S. Supreme Court signaled interest Tuesday in reviewing a challenge to Mississippi’s incorporation of the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag.

The justices asked Gov. Phil Bryant to respond to a petition asking the justices to reverse a March ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that Mississippi may lawfully display the stars and bars on its state flag. The Court rarely asks for a response to such a petition, which indicates that the justices are at least interested in taking the case.

A black attorney named Carlos Moore asked a federal court to order the removal of Confederate imagery from the state flag in 2016. Moore argued the appearance of Confederate standards on state symbols violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause, given its association with slavery. The 5th Circuit dismissed the case, concluding Moore had no standing to sue since he failed to establish concrete injury.

Moore’s attorney, Michael Scott, told the Associated Press that the high court’s order is a promising development.

“While this does not mean that the Supreme Court will take the case, it shows that they are giving serious consideration to the petition,” Scott said. “We are very pleased by this development and remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree that the equal protection issues we have raised are worthy of the Court’s time.”

A controversy over Confederate imagery was last before the Court in 2015. In that case, an organization of Confederate descendants called the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued Texas after state officials declined to issue a speciality license plate depicting Confederate banners. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court concluded that license plates constitute government speech, and the state cannot be coerced into expression.

Bryant’s office must submit its response by Sept. 28.

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