SCOTUS Makes Heroic Stand for Southern History, Defends Flag
BY KIM SMITH
NOVEMBER 29, 2017
In a bold stand for states’ rights, the United States Supreme Court this week rejected a case that challenged the use of a Confederate symbol on the Mississippi state flag.
Lawyer Carlos Moore, who is black, said the symbol on the Mississippi flag was “an official endorsement of white supremacy” and sought to have the flag declared unconstitutional, The Associated Press reported.
The Mississippi state flag, which has been in use since 1894, features the Confederate battle flag in its upper left corner.
Moore’s lawsuit argued that the flag, which hangs in state buildings, courts and schools, was an oppressive symbol.
“The message in Mississippi’s flag has always been one of racial hostility and insult and it is pervasive and unavoidable by both children and adults,” Moore’s appeal read, according to the AP.
“The state’s continued expression of its message of racial disparagement sends a message to African-American citizens of Mississippi that they are second class citizens,” it said.
Moore filed his lawsuit in February 2016, but a lower court refused to hear the suit because Moore did not have standing to sue, the AP reported.
ABC News reported that attorneys for Mississippi argued that a lawsuit must show an “allegation of discriminatory treatment,” and Moore’s lawsuit did not do that.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has called Moore’s lawsuit “frivolous,” according to ABC. Bryant maintains that if the flag’s design is to be changed, it should be done by a statewide vote.
In 2001, Mississippi residents voted to keep the flag. In 2015, Bryant declared that he would not call the state’s legislature into special session to debate the removal of the Confederate flag.
The Supreme Court did not issue a comment with its decision. However, under the Supreme Court’s rules of procedure, the votes of only four justices are needed to accept a case.
That means not even all the court’s liberals — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — could agree to get involved.
“We always knew it was a long shot,” Moore told the AP, adding that he was still hopeful that the flag would one day come down.
With this decision, the high court is leaving the matter up to the state. By limiting its own federal power, the court has taken a stand for not only states’ rights, but against the witch hunt against Confederate culture that has taken place in recent years.
Critics might claim that the court’s decision somehow endorses the use of a racist symbol on the flag, but they would be wrong.
Such matters should be left up to the states. Some states have already banned Confederate symbols and monuments, and it is within their right to do. In fact, according to ABC, Mississippi is the only remaining state that still boasts the symbol of the Confederacy on its flag.
The court’s decision not to hear Moore’s suit showed that it recognizes there are limits on federal power.
And that’s always good news.