Confederate Group Wants Flag on 3 More States' Plates

Opponents say states shouldn't support offensive statements
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2011 3:50 PM CDT
Sons of Confederate Veterans Call for Flag on 3 More States' License Plates
A member of Sons of Confederate Veterans displays a sample of a Civil War sesquicentennial tag that is being sold, left, adjacent to the current tag in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

With an eye to the American Civil War’s sesquicentennial, a Confederate organization wants the Confederate flag to adorn license plates in Texas, Florida, and Kentucky—and critics aren’t happy about it. Sons of Confederate Veterans has already adorned plates in nine states with the flag; the group says the images “promote a positive image of the Confederate States of America.” But while freedom of speech is important, argues the NAACP, “when we talk about government functions, we have the authority not to promote things considered offensive to the public.”

At the heart of the matter is whether license plates constitute government speech or personal speech, USA Today reports. “It's a perennial First Amendment issue” that is “not going away,” says an expert. Federal courts have taken varied stances on vanity plate issues, he notes, but the Sons of Confederate Veterans have won every time they’ve taken Confederate plate concerns to court, says a rep. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, controversy continues over a proposed plate featuring the KKK’s first Grand Wizard. (Read more Civil War stories.)

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