[JURIST] South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley [official website] signed into law a bill [text; materials] on Thursday to remove the Confederate flag [UVA backgrounder] from the state’s legislature. The South Carolina Senate [official website] approved [JURIST report] the bill Tuesday It was then introduced in the South Carolina House [official website] for approval. The amendment states that the only flags allowed on state grounds will be the US flag and the South Carolina flag and that the Confederate flag will be transported to the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum [official website] to be put on display. The bill was introduced on the Senate floor late last month after shooter Dylann Roof [NBC archive], who posted several photos of himself with the Confederate flag, killed nine black church members attending Emanuel AME Church [official website] in Charleston. South Carolina first flew the flag over the Statehouse dome in 1961 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.
Although the Charleston shooting led to renewed focus on the use of the Confederate flag, controversy over the flag has persisted for years. Last month, the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans [text, pdf] that state governments can restrict [JURIST report] the kinds of messages printed on specialty license plates after the Sons of Confederate Veterans [advocacy website] argued that the Texas government’s refusal to issue specialty license plates including an image of the confederate flag violated First Amendment [LII backgrounder]. In June 2012, a federal judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] which challenged the constitutionality of the city of Lexington’s ordinance banning the Confederate flag from being flown on city poles. In 2008, a federal court affirmed [JURIST report] a district court’s grant of summary judgment to a Tennessee public high school in a lawsuit brought by three students who claimed the school’s ban on wearing the Confederate flag was unconstitutional.