On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether Texas was wrong to reject specialty vehicle license plates displaying the Confederate flag, the emblem that serves as a painful reminder of the history of slavery to Blacks and a point of pride for some White southerners, Reuters reports.
The Texas chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans thinks it should be allowed. They argue that its members’ free speech rights were violated in 2010 when Texas officials rejected the plate, the news outlet writes. The veterans seek to preserve the “history and legacy” of soldiers who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War.
The nine justices will hear a one-hour oral argument in a case that raises the issue of how states can allow or reject politically divisive messages on license plates without violating free speech rights. States can generate revenue by allowing outside groups to propose specialty license plates that people then pay a fee to put on their vehicle.
A ruling in the case, Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, is expected by the end of June.
Our take: We agree that the U.S. Constitution supports free speech for all, but with that freedom comes responsibility. As Royce West, a Black Texas Democratic state senator said in 2011, according to Reuters, “Ill-intended or not, why would African-Americans want to be reminded of a legalized system of involuntary servitude, dehumanization, rape and mass murder?”