U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear lawsuit against West Monroe Rebels

October 3, 2007
By Barbara Leader
Gannett News Service

A conference of all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition by a Monroe man to be heard before the full court in the case involving West Monroe High School’s rebel mascot.

Ricky G. Minnifield filed an appeal with the Supreme Court regarding decisions made by the U.S. District Court in Monroe and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeal was given a docket number and was reviewed by the justices who ruled on Monday to deny the hearing before the court.

Minnifield says that he will file for a rehearing and has 25 days to do so. If he does not file or if the conference declines to hear the case again, the matter has reached its legal end.

“A lot of people think that it was just me, but it’s not,” he said. “The others, they think the Supreme Court is prejudice,” Minnifield said.

Minnifield, a West Monroe High School graduate who lives in southern Ouachita Parish, filed a $22 million lawsuit in January 2006 in U.S. District court demanding the school stop using the Rebels nickname because he said that it promotes racial discrimination.

The district court ruled that the statute of limitations on the case had expired since Minnifield graduated from the school in 1975. Minnifield then asked that the case be reviewed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court upheld the ruling of the district court.

“I don’t believe there is a statue of limitations regarding racial discrimination,” Minnifield said.

Minnifield, who has represented himself throughout the whole legal process, complained that during his years at West Monroe High School in the 1970s, the school used the confederate battle flag on its yearbook, on its cheerleader uniforms and on the school building.

“It’s way more than the mascot,” Minnifield said. “It’s what the confederacy stands for.”

The Rebel has been the school’s mascot since shortly after the school opened in the 1950s when students who were attending the school made suggestions for a mascot and voted on the issue.

By denying the petition the Supreme Court refused to review the ruling by the 5th Circuit.

“The denial of the writ application by the court is what we would have anticipated all along,” Ouachita Parish School Board attorney Elmer Noah said.

“The justice system just didn’t work this time, the way that it’s supposed to,” Minnifield said. “Some things we will just have to take on the chin.”

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