Supreme Court won’t review North Carolina’s decision to remove Confederate flag license plates
Supreme Court won't review North Carolina's decision to remove Confederate flag license plates
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Monday it will not review North Carolina’s decision to stop issuing specialty license plates with the Confederate flag.
As usual, the court made no comment in declining to hear the case, which challenged the state’s decision. This litigation is one of many that the court said Monday it would not hear. This case is similar to a case originating in Texas that the court heard in 2015, when it ruled that license plates were state property.
The current dispute stems from the North Carolina situation Decision 2021 to cease issuing specialty license plates bearing the insignia of the North Carolina chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The chapter sued, claiming the state’s decision violated state law and federal law. A lower court dismissed the case and a federal appeals court agreed with that decision.
North Carolina offers three standard license plates and over 200 specialty plates. Civic clubs, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, can create special plates by meeting specific requirements.
In 2021, however, the state Department of Transportation sent the group a letter saying it would “no longer issue or renew specialty license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag or any variation thereof” because that the plaques “have the potential to offend those who view them.”
The state said it would consider alternate artwork for the plate design if it did not contain the Confederate flag.
The organization unsuccessfully argued that the state’s decision violated its free speech rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution and state law governing specialty license plates.
In 2015, the Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans claimed that Texas was wrong not to issue a specialty license plate with the band’s insignia. But the The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Texas might limit the contents of license plates because they are state property.