[JURIST] A Travis county [official website] judge on Friday denied a request for a temporary restraining order meant to halt the University of Texas at Austin’s efforts to relocate a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The university’s plan to move the statue from a prominent pedestrian area to an on-campus american history center was opposed [Texas Tribune report] by the Sons of Confederate Veterans [advocacy website] group. The group argued for the restraining order on the basis of the fragility of the statute, as well as the intent of the original donor that the statute remain in a prominent place. District Judge Karin Crump [official profile] rejected the group’s arguments, stating that state laws allow the school to determine where to place statuary on its campus.
In recent months, debate has intensified over the acceptability of confederate symbols in everyday life. In July, it came to light that Dylann Roof, who is charged with the murder of nine black church members in South Carolina, prominently posed [NY Times report] with the confederate flag. Although the Charleston shooting led to renewed focus on the use of the Confederate flag, controversy over the flag has persisted for years. In June, 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 licence plates after the Sons of Confederate Veterans argued that the Texas government’s refusal to issue specialty licence 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.