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Confederacy advocacy group to appeal dismissal of challenge to city flag ordinance

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) [advocacy website] on Wednesday signaled to the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia [official website] that the group will appeal the court's decision to dismiss the SCV's legal challenge to a Lexington city ordinance relating to the display of the Confederate flag on municipal flagpoles. The ordinance in question bans the display [AP report] on any city flagpole any flag that is not the US, state or city flag. As such, the Confederate flag is effectively banned from display on municipal flagpoles. In its lawsuit the SCV alleged that the ordinance violates the First Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] by regulating expression based on content. The district court judge dismissed the suit [JURIST report], finding that the ordinance does not discriminate against a particular viewpoint, but rather "prohibits the expression of all private viewpoints." The Rutherford Institute [advocacy website] filed the notice of appeal on behalf of the SCV, intending to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website].

The Confederate flag has long been a subject of controversy. In August 2008 the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a Tennessee high school's ban on wearing the Confederate flag in a lawsuit brought by students who said the ban violated their freedom of speech, equal protection and due process rights under the US Constitution. In 2003 the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld [JURIST report] the dismissal of a suit filed by a man who was fired for displaying Confederate flag stickers at work [NYT report].

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