SCOTUS: Texas Doesn't Have to Issue Confederate Flag License Plate

iBlazed

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In a case that pinned conservatives against fellow conservatives and put state's rights up against the first amendment, the state of Texas got their way. SCOTUS reversed the fifth circuit court of appeals and decided that Texas is not violating the first amendment by refusing to allow confederate flag vanity plates. The most interesting part was the make-up of the 5-4 majority, which included the entire liberal wing of the court and one of the most conservative Justices on the court, Justice Thomas.

I'm most surprised that committee in charge of approving vanity plates in Texas decided unanimously against allowing the Confederate plates. I bet this is a legal challenge that Texas couldn't envision itself ever being a part of, fighting for its right to not have to print confederate flags onto its license plates.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles can refuse to issue a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate Battle Flag, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The decision ends a court battle that literally lasted longer than the Civil War itself.

Early in 2011, the Department of Motor Vehicles unanimously refused a request from the Sons of Confederate Veterans to issue the specialty license plate to honor Texans who served in the Civil War. The DMV ruled that the design of the plate was inflammatory and the state did not want to associate itself with the divisive symbol of the Confederacy.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans Texas Division sued. It said the state was engaging in 'viewpoint discrimination,' pointing out that the state allows dozens of other specialty plates honoring everything from first responders to Medal of Honor recipients.

In its ruling today, the court said Texas license plates are government i.d.'s

"Texas owns the designs on its license plates, including the designs that Texas adupts on the basis of proposals made by private individuals and organizations," the court ruled. "Texas license plates are, essentially, government IDs. And issuers of IDs typically do not permit the placement on their IDs of messages with which they do not wish to be associated."

The court said when people see messages on license plates 'the routinely and responsible interpret them as conveying some message on the issuer's behalf.'

The justices said states have free speech rights just like individuals, and they pointed out that individual property owners are unlikely to allow their property to be used to communicate messages they disagree with.

"Indeed, a person who displays a message on a Texas license plate likely intends to convey to the public that the State has endorsed the message," the court said. "Texas license plate designs convey government agreement with the message displayed."

The court ruled that individuals have the right to honor the Confederacy or its soldiers on bumper stickers throughout their car.
Read more: http://www.woai.com/articles/woai-local-news-sponsored-by-five-119078/scotus-texas-doesnt-have-to-issue-13690907/#ixzz3dRPVlTe5
 

bradl

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From the article:

"Indeed, a person who displays a message on a Texas license plate likely intends to convey to the public that the State has endorsed the message," the court said. "Texas license plate designs convey government agreement with the message displayed."
One really can't argue that, because if they ruled the other way, anything and everything would be fair game for a state to allow, including the conveying of government agreement on religion, civil rights, voter rights, etc.

Either the huge double standard would be created by allowing everything, or government allows nothing, as its hands are tied by the Constitution, as it should be.

BL.
 

iBlazed

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I don't see how they could have ruled any other way. If they did, it would theoretically force states to print license plates with swastikas on them if requested by their local chapter of the Aryan Brotherhood.
 
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FieldingMellish

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Can a person claim an exemption for identifying as a confederate soldier and who would also expect that he or she be accorded their due as the sex and race changers? And to which prohibiting the exemption constitutes being confederate-phobic?
 

bradl

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Can a person claim an exemption for identifying as a confederate soldier and who would also expect that he or she be accorded their due as the sex and race changers? And to which prohibiting the exemption constitutes being confederate-phobic?
Any exemption would be irrelevant.

The issue here is that if the license plates were issued, the Sons of Confederate Veterans would be infringing on the government's freedom of speech, by forcing it to print something it the government (of the people, by the people, for the people) does not agree with. Breyer (writing for the majority) makes mention of that, plus cites Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, which in 2009 SCOTUS ruled that a privately funded monument on public property constitutes government speech and therefore a municipality could refuse to erect it without violating the First Amendment.

I'll give you this example: If SCOTUS didn't rule the way it did, that would give a group like the KKK or the Aryan Race free reign to have license plates created saying "NOBLKVTS" (no black votes). Texas then would be able to create them. By doing that, It shows that Texas is against and would deny black people the right to vote, in violation of the 15th Amendment.

Would you judge that to be right and just?

BL.
 

Robisan

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AP: The court said Thursday that Texas can limit the content of license plates because they are state property and not the equivalent of a bumper sticker.
Don't know if the AP is completely accurate in this summation but it's an important point. You don't own your license plate. The state does and can revoke it and/or demand its return for cause.
 

AustinIllini

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The Confederate battle flag is an abomination.

I would go a step further and say I don't believe any of them should have any kind of political statement attached to them. Something about this seems wrong. The Mighty Fine Hamburgers one is great.
 
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AustinIllini

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Just the battle flag? The Stars & Bars in any form is a flag of traitors and treason.
The battle flag is the particular version used by racists.

Most of them would not recognize the actual confederate flag.

I'm also not comfortable with the use of the word "Treason" in this context. It's not really accurate. It's horrible because it's racist.
 
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bradl

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The one in SC is still standing tall while the other flags are half mast for the church shooting victims. ****ing racists.
You now have to wonder if a lawsuit calling for the change or removal of SC's flag will now be filed, as this and the Pleasant Grove City case now provide precedent for a city or state's infringement of freedom of speech rights.

BL.
 

VulchR

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I wonder how many confederate soldiers would have advocated walking into a church and shooting people for no sane reason....

I don't like the confederate flag. I do not think it should be flown at all, but distressingly here in Scotland some American students and ex-pats display it. It makes a bad impression.
 
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bradl

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I wonder how many confederate soldiers would have advocated walking into a church and shooting people for no sane reason....

I don't like the confederate flag. I do not think it should be flown at all, but distressingly here in Scotland some American students and ex-pats display it. It makes a bad impression.
It really makes one wonder why we loved The Dukes of Hazzard. I mean, that car was nothing but the confederate flag.

BL.
 

iBlazed

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For all the negativity coming out of Texas, I commend the committee that approves vanity plates for voting unanimously 8-0 to deny the application for a confederate flag on their license plates. It's somewhat redeeming.
 
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tgara

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I honestly think this decision should have been unanimous. I don't get why this decision was almost fully down partisan lines.
Hey, I said the same thing in the Hobby Lobby decision last term, and that case arguably easier than this one because it was a simple issue of statutory construction without any First Amendment issues.

The case has little to do with the confederate symbol per se. The crux of this decision is what type of speech the confederate symbol is on these license plates: Private speech or government speech? Remember, the 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 that the slogans and sayings on the Texas license plates were private, not government, speech. And 4 of the SC Justices said the same thing, likening them to mini-billboards conveying messages of the car owner, not the government. So of all the judges that rules on this case (district court, appeals court, and supreme court), 7 ruled it was government speech and 6 ruled that it was private speech. That's a pretty close margin and shows how reasonable minds can differ.

If you want to learn something about this, read Alito's dissent. It's easily to follow and quite compelling whether you agree with the majority or not.
 
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AustinIllini

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For all the negativity coming out of Texas, I commend the committee that approves vanity plates for voting unanimously 8-0 to deny the application for a confederate flag on their license plates. It's somewhat redeeming.
The ties between Texas and the Confederacy are traditionally less strong than the so called "Deep South". Sam Houston was famously against leaving the union, as he was keen to get Texas in the union in the first place.

Texans have a great deal more pride in the Texas flag than the Confederate flag or any other banner.
 

AustinIllini

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The flag of treason and slavery. I will never understand people who celebrate it and try to cling on to a relic of a shameful past.
Again, a flag of slavery. Agreed. It needs to go away.

People need to stop with the "treason" thing. As far as "treason" goes, we live in the United States, a country formed through treason.