Appeals court hears Confederate-flag case

By Noell Wolfgram Evans | Mar 17, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — The case over whether the state of Mississippi should be required to remove the Confederate battle-flag symbol from its state flag was heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month.

The New Orleans-based court was reviewing a case brought against the state of Mississippi by Carlos Moore. The Mississippi lawyer, also an African-American, charged that the flag is “state-sanctioned hate speech,” according to the Associated Press.

In 2016, according to a Newsmax report citing a Jackson Free Press story, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed Moore’s case, saying in part that fear of violence similar to that in a South Carolina incident involving the flag “fell 'short of Constitutional standing.” That decision is at the heart of the appeal that was heard by the 5th Circuit Court.

“We believe that Carlos does indeed have standing. If the court agrees, we’ll go back to Mississippi for a trial. Otherwise, we may file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court,” Michael Scott, Moore’s attorney, told the Louisiana Record.

“When the Confederate emblem was added in 1894, it was done so as a banner of white supremacy,” he said.

Scott believes that this adds to the overall historical use of the symbol as one of oppression. With this, he thinks it is fairly clear to see how a citizen could feel the state was promoting this type of belief.

The use of the Confederate symbol began falling out of favor across the country for use in an official capacity following the 2015 shootings of black parishioners in a South Carolina church. The assailant, a white male, had posted photos online of himself with the Confederate flag. Following that tragedy, the state of South Carolina removed the symbol from state grounds.

“In the summer of 2015, there were a number of attempts in the Mississippi state Legislature to change the state flag. None of them had enough votes to pass, though,” Scott said. “Carlos decided to attempt to bring change through this lawsuit because, as he said, you can only wait so long.”

Scott said this case is strictly about the way that the state uses this symbol.

“We want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with an individual's right to have the symbol on their car or on a shirt or in their house,” he said. “This is just about if the state should fly that flag.”

The 5th Circuit Court did not offer a timeline for their decision, the Associated Press reported.

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